Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology

, Volume 137, Issue 2, pp 201–210

Thymidilate synthase expression predicts longer survival in patients with stage II colon cancer treated with 5-flurouracil independently of microsatellite instability

  • Marisa Donada
  • Serena Bonin
  • Ermanno Nardon
  • Alessandro De Pellegrin
  • Giuliana Decorti
  • Giorgio Stanta
Original Paper



5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) is the most commonly used therapeutic agent for colon cancer treatment. Several studies have evaluated in patients with colon cancer, either the role of genes involved in the 5-FU pathway, such as thymidylate synthase (TS), thymidine phosphorylase (TP) and dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) or the role of microsatellite instability (MSI) as prognostic or predictive markers for adjuvant chemotherapy efficacy, with discordant results. In this study we investigated the combined effect of TS, TP, DPD mRNA expression and MSI status in primary tumors of patients with colon cancer, all treated with 5-FU adjuvant therapy.


TS, TP and DPD expression levels were investigated by real-time quantitative RT-PCR on RNA extracts from formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissues of 55 patients with colon adenocarcinoma. In the same case study MSI status was assessed on DNA extracts.


A higher TS expression was significantly associated with a longer survival for patients with cancers of stage II (P < 0.01), but not for those with stage III (P = 0.68). In addition, in multivariate analysis, a higher TS expression was significantly associated with a decreased risk of death (HR 0.13, 95% CI 0.03–0.59, P < 0.01), while the MSI status did not have effects on patients’ survival.


This retrospective investigation suggests that TS gene expression at mRNA level can be a useful marker of better survival in patients (especially of those with cancers of stage II) receiving 5-FU adjuvant chemotherapy, independently of the MSI status.


Colon cancer Adjuvant chemotherapy 5-fluorouracil pathway genes Microsatellite instability Formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissues 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marisa Donada
    • 1
  • Serena Bonin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ermanno Nardon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alessandro De Pellegrin
    • 1
  • Giuliana Decorti
    • 3
  • Giorgio Stanta
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.ACADEM Department, Cattinara HospitalUniversity of TriesteTriesteItaly
  2. 2.International Centre for Genetic Engineering and BiotechnologyTriesteItaly
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical SciencesUniversity of TriesteTriesteItaly

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