Purpose: Histologic classification of invasive lung adenocarcinomas by predominant subtype has prognostic value. Papillary predominant adenocarcinoma (PPA) reportedly shows poorer prognosis than lepidic predominant adenocarcinoma (LPA); however, biological differences between PPA and LPA are unclear. The purpose of this study was to clarify biological differences between PPA and LPA. Methods: Clinicopathological characteristics of invasive 62 PPAs and 117 LPAs smaller than 30 mm were investigated. Furthermore, we compared immunochemical staining scores of 9 molecular markers (E-cadherin, S100A4, fibronectin, integrinβ1, ezrin, GLUT1, ALDH1, SOX2 and Nanog) between PPA and LPA. We performed Western blot analysis using ezrin shRNA-knockdown lung adenocarcinoma cell lines to examine whether molecules that are highly expressed in PPA, such as ezrin, affect pAkt. Finally, we performed immunochemical staining to compare pAkt expression level in PPA and LPA. Results: Lymphovascular and pleural invasion and lymph node metastasis were significantly more often detected in PPA than in LPA (lymphatic permeation: 31 vs 3 %, vascular invasion: 35 vs 3 %, pleural invasion: 29 vs 5 %, lymph node metastasis: 18 vs 1 %; all P < 0.01). Immunohistochemical (IHC) study revealed that expression score of ezrin was significantly higher in PPA than in LPA (38.3 vs 15.0; P < 0.01). The level of pAkt decreased in shEzrin-induced PC-9 and A549 cancer cells. Moreover, the IHC staining score of pAkt was significantly higher in PPA than in LPA (13.3 vs 0.0; P < 0.01). Conclusions: Our results show that the activation of the ezrin–pAkt signaling axis is associated with the more aggressive clinicopathological features of PPA compared with LPA.
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