Secretory phospholipase A2-IIa is a target gene of the HER/HER2-elicited pathway and a potential plasma biomarker for poor prognosis of prostate cancer


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Our previous study showed that prostate cancer cells overexpress and secrete secretory phospholipases A2 group IIa (sPLA2-IIa) and plasma sPLA2-IIa was elevated in prostate cancer patients. The current study further explored the underlying mechanism of sPLA2-IIa overexpression and the potential role of sPLA2-IIa as a prostate cancer biomarker.


Plasma and tissue specimens from prostate cancer patients were analyzed for sPLA2-IIa levels. Regulation of sPLA2-IIa expression by Heregulin-α was determined by Western blot and reporter assay.


We found that Heregulin-α enhanced expression of the sPLA2-IIa gene via the HER2/HER3-elicited pathway. The EGFR/HER2 dual inhibitor Lapatinib and the NF-kB inhibitor Bortezomib inhibited sPLA2-IIa expression induced by Heregulin-α. Heregulin-α upregulated expression of the sPLA2-IIa gene at the transcriptional level. We further confirmed that plasma sPLA2-IIa secreted by mouse bearing human prostate cancer xenografts reached detectable plasma concentrations. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis of patient plasma specimens revealed that high levels of plasma sPLA2-IIa, with the optimum cutoff value of 2.0 ng/ml, were significantly associated with high Gleason score (8–10) relative to intermediate Gleason score (6–7) prostate cancers and advanced relative to indolent cancers. The area under the ROC curve (area under curve, AUC) was 0.73 and 0.74, respectively.


We found that Heregulin-α, in addition to EGF, contributes to sPLA2-IIa overexpression in prostate cancer cells. Our findings support the notion that high levels of plasma sPLA2-IIa may serve as a poor prognostic biomarker capable of distinguishing aggressive from indolent prostate cancers, which may improve decision-making and optimize patient management. Prostate 72:1140–1149, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.