Glioblastoma multiforme is the most frequent malignant brain tumor in adults being marked with a very poor prognosis. Therapy concept implies concomitant radio-chemotherapy and facultative implantation of carmustine-eluted wafer. Current literature suggests microRNA 26a expression in glioblastoma to interact with alkylating chemotherapy. Subsequently, the aim of this study was to investigate the correlation of miRNA-26a expression and carmustine wafer implantation and its potential usefulness as a predictive marker for therapy response.
In total, 229 patients with glioblastoma multiforme were included into the final analysis. Of them, 80 cases were recruited from the Saarland University Medical Center for a retrospective matched-pair analysis stratified after therapy regime: One group (carmustine wafer group; n=40) received concomitant radio-chemotherapy with carmustine wafer implantation. The other group (control group; n=40) only received concomitant radio-chemotherapy. The results were confirmed by comparing them with an independent dataset of 149 patients from the TCGA database. All tumor specimens were evaluated for miRNA-26a expression, MGMT promoter methylation, and IDH1 R132H mutation status, and the results were correlated with the clinical data.
Twenty-three patients in the carmustine wafer group showed low expression of miRNA-26a, while 17 patients showed a high expression. In the control group, 28 patients showed low expression, while 12 patients showed a high expression. The patients with high miRNA-26a expression in the carmustine wafer group were characterized by a significantly longer overall (hazard ratio [HR] 2.750 [95% CI 1.352–5.593]; p=0.004) and progression-free survival (HR 3.091 [95% CI 1.436–6.657]; p=0.003) than patients with low miRNA-26a expression. The 17 patients in the carmustine wafer group with high miRNA-26a expression showed a significantly longer progression-free survival (p=0.013) and overall survival (p=0.007) compared with the control group. There were no such correlations identified within the control group. TCGA datasets supported these findings.
MiRNA-26a expression turned out to be a promising predictor of therapy response and clinical outcome in glioblastoma patients treated with carmustine wafer implantation. For evaluation of the role of miRNA-26a in a combined therapy setting, further studies are needed in order to translate general findings to the patient’s individual situation.