Background: High-grade neuroendocrine tumours (HGNTs) of the lung manifest a wide spectrum of clinical behaviour, butno method for predicting their outcome has been established. Materials and methods: We newly established a monoclonal antibody specifically recognizing the product of the alternatively spliced ACTN4 transcript (namely, variant actinin-4), and used it to examine the expression of variant actinin-4 immunohistochemically in a total of 609 surgical specimens of various histological subtypes of lung cancer. Results: Variant actinin-4 was expressed in 55% (96/176) of HGNTs, but in only 0.8% (3/378) of non-neuroendocrine(NE) lung cancers. The expression of variant actinin-4 was significantly associated with poorer overall survival in HGNT patients (P = 0.00021, log-rank test). Multivariate analysis using the Cox proportional hazards model showed that the expression of variant actinin-4 was the most significant independent negative predictor of survival in HGNT patients(hazard ratio (HR), 2.15; P = 0.00113) after the presence of lymph node metastasis (HR, 2.25; P = 0.00023). Conclusions: The expression of variant actinin-4 is an independent prognostic factor for patients with HGNTs. This protein has a high affinity for filamentous actin polymers and likely promotes aggressive behaviour of cancer cells. The present clinical findings clearly support this notion.
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