Background: L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM) has been shown to be a prognostic marker in various cancer types, and has been suggested to play a role in epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). Here, we determined the prognostic significance of L1CAM in cervical cancer and its association with vimentin expression on tumor cells, indicative of EMT.
Methods: Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded primary tumor samples from 372 cervical cancer patients were collected for immunohistochemical analysis of L1CAM expression. In 109 FFPE specimens, the percentage of vimentin expressing tumor cells was determined by flow cytometry.
Results: Positive L1CAM expression (≥10% of tumor cells) was associated with disease-free survival, validated using RNAseq TCGA data. L1CAM expression was independently associated with locoregional recurrence-free survival (hazard ratio 2.62, 95% CI 1.33 - 5.17,P= 0.006), and strongly associated with percentage of vimentin expressing tumor cells (P= 0.003). Expression of both L1CAM and vimentin indicated a subgroup with the highest risk of recurrence (hazard ratio 3.15, 95% CI 1.25 - 7.92,P= 0.015).
Conclusion: L1CAM might be a promising new prognostic marker for locoregional recurrences in cervical cancer, and its association with vimentin expression suggests that L1CAM might affect tumor aggressiveness, possibly through EMT.