Survivin gene expression in early-stage non-small cell lung cancer

Monica Falleni, Caterina Pellegrini, Antonio Marchetti, Barbara Oprandi, Fiamma Buttitta, Fabio Barassi, Luigi Santambrogio, Guido Coggi, Silvano Bosari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Survivin is an inhibitor of apoptosis protein, overexpressed in most human malignancies and implicated in mitosis regulation and preservation of cell viability. In order to investigate the prevalence and clinical significance of survivin in early-stage non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), survivin mRNA levels and protein expression were evaluated, using quantitative real-time RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry, respectively, in a series of 83 patients with stage I (IA and IB) surgically resected NSCLC. Detectable survivin mRNA levels could be demonstrated in all non-neoplastic lung tissue samples and in the tumours analysed. Survivin mRNA levels were elevated in 80 carcinomas (96%) compared to normal lung (p = 0.008). Among all tumours, survivin transcripts were present at a higher level in squamous cell carcinomas (p = 0.0022). Cytoplasmic and nuclear immunoreactivity was found in 70% and 80% of tumours, respectively and both were present in 54%. Cytoplasmic immunoreactivity correlated with tumour stage (p = 0.019). Survivin expression levels did not correlate with patient survival. In one specimen, cytoplasmic and focal nuclear immunostaining was observed in dysplastic bronchial squamous metaplasia. These results document that survivin overexpression is almost always present in early-stage NSCLC, suggesting that this protein may play a role in lung tumourigenesis. This ubiquitous expression makes survivin an appealing new target for novel therapies in lung cancer. In addition, this study also documents that survivin overexpression could be exploited for diagnostic purposes and that quantitative real-time RT-PCR can be a useful tool for evaluating survivin activation in NSCLC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-626
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pathology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2003


  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Non-small cell lung carcinoma
  • Real-time RT-PCR
  • Survivin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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