Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) poses a great threat to human health. DNA methylation abnormalities play a central role in the development and outcome of most human malignancies, providing potential biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis. Iroquois homeobox 1 (IRX1) can act as a tumor suppressor or promoter depending on the tumor microenvironment, and its role in lung cancer is still controversial.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the biological role and prognostic value of IRX1 in NSCLC.
We examined the methylation status of IRX1 promoter in 146 tumors from patients with NSCLC using pyrosequencing and analyzed the association between methylation status and overall patient survival.
A total of 37 cases (25.3%) showed IRX1 methylation-positive tumors when compared with matched normal tissues. No association between IRX1 expression level and methylation status was found in lung cancer cell lines. IRX1 methylation significantly correlated with smoking status and TP53 mutation. Patients with IRX1 methylation showed significantly longer survival than patients without methylation (log-rank P = 0.011). In a multivariate analysis of prognostic factors, IRX1 methylation in tumor samples was an independent prognostic factor (adjusted hazard ratio = 0.35, 95% confidence interval 0.17-0.73, P = 0.005).
These results suggest that IRX1 promoter methylation may be a tumor-associated event and an independent predictor of survival advantage in patients with NSCLC. Further large-scale studies are needed to confirm these findings.