The hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)/c-MET signaling system plays an important role in the carcinogenesis of various organs. We investigated the expression of HGF and its receptor c-MET by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in 69 cases of synovial sarcoma and compared the findings with clinicopathologic parameters, proliferating activities evaluated by MIB-1 labeling index (MIB-1 LI), and patients' prognosis. Furthermore, mRNA analysis of HGF, c-MET, and SYT-SSX fusion gene was performed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in 22 concordant frozen materials. Twenty-one of 69 (30.4%) tumors showed positive reaction for c-MET, whereas 22 tumors (31.9%) were positive for HGF. In 10 cases, co-expression of HGF and c-MET was observed; however, there was no significant correlation between HGF and c-MET expression. HGF expression was correlated with female patients, large tumors (more than 5 cm), the presence of rhabdoid cells, low frequency of mast cells (<20/10 HPF), high nuclear grade (grade III), and high American Joint Committee (AJC) stage (III and IV). Conversely, c-MET expression was only correlated with large tumors. However, the co-expression of HGF and c-MET was significantly correlated with large tumor size, the existence of rhabdoid cells, and high AJC stage. Both the expression of HGF and the co-expression of HGF and c-MET showed a significantly high MIB-1 LI and were correlated with poor prognosis according to univariate analysis. Multivariate Cox analysis showed that high AJC stage, the expression of HGF, and a high MIB-1 LI (12.0>) independently had a negative impact on overall survival. In 22 frozen material cases evaluated by both IHC and RT-PCR, a statistically significant correlation was found between the 2 techniques. SYT-SSX fusion transcripts were detected in all 22 cases. Three tumors had SYT-SSX2 fusion transcripts, whereas 19 had SYT-SSX1 phenotype. Our results suggest that HGF/c-MET paracrine signaling may contribute to tumorigenesis and progression in synovial sarcoma. (C) 2000 W.B. Saunders Company.
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