Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

Role of Autophagy-Related Gene 7 in Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

By: Celeste L. Dixon
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2020

A potential novel target for therapy in non-melanoma skin cancer may be one step closer given the results of a case-controlled study analyzing the presence of autophagy-related gene 7 (ATG7) in 104 patients with basal cell carcinoma (n = 77) and squamous cell carcinoma (n = 27) in 20 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, the data revealed that “all patients showed a nucleocytoplasmic localization of ATG7, while the controls showed both cytoplasmic and nucleocytoplasmic expression (P < .001),” wrote Rehab M. Samaka, MD, of Menoufia University in Al Minufya, Egypt, and colleagues.

In addition, all controls belonged to what was described as the “low-H,” or low histologic score, group, whereas the majority of patients belonged to the “high-H” group (P < .001). This scale, the researchers explained, was used to assess the ATG7 immunohistochemistry-stained slides in both epithelium and stroma, incorporating percentage of positivity as well as intensity, which ranged from mild to moderate to strong.

Autophagy, the cellular process related to homeostasis in cells, is “suggested to have both tumor-suppressing and tumor-promoting functions during cancer progression,” noted the authors. Part of the non-melanoma skin cancer puzzle is that ultraviolet radiation exposure, a known major risk factor, may induce autophagy in keratinocytes as well as induce random DNA damage.

A limitation of the study was its relatively small patient cohort. Nonetheless, concluded Dr. Samaka and co-researchers, their results indicate that ATG7 nucleocytoplasmic topographic localization might well play a role in the pathogenesis of non-melanoma skin cancer, “opening the gate for new [targeted] therapy.”

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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