A Phase I Trial of DFMO Targeting Polyamine Addiction in Patients with Relapsed/Refractory Neuroblastoma
High polyamine (PA) levels and ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) overexpression are well-known phenomena in many aggressive cancer types. We analyzed the expression of ODC and ODC-activity regulating genes antizymes 1-3 (OAZ1-3) and antizyme inhibitors 1-2 (AZ-IN1-2) in human neuroblastoma (NB) tumors and correlated these with genetic and clinical features of NB. Since ODC is a known target gene of MYCN, the correlation between ODC and MYCN was of special interest. Data were obtained from Affymetrix micro-array analysis of 88 NB tumor samples. In addition, mRNA expression levels of ODC, OAZ2 and MYCN in a MYCN-inducible NB cell line were determined by quantitative real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). ODC mRNA expression in NB tumors was significantly predictive of decreased overall survival probability and correlated with several unfavorable clinical NB characteristics (all p < 0.005). Interestingly, high ODC mRNA expression also showed significant correlation with poor survival prognosis in Kaplan-Meier analyses stratified for patients without MYCN amplification, suggesting an additional role for ODC independent of MYCN. Conversely, high OAZ2 mRNA expression correlated with increased survival and with several favorable clinical NB characteristics (all p < 0.003). In addition, we provide first evidence of a role for MYCN-associated transcription factors MAD2 and MAD7 in ODC regulation. In NB cell cultures, ectopic overexpression of MYCN altered ODC but not OAZ2 mRNA levels. In conclusion, these data suggest that elevated ODC and low OAZ2 mRNA expression levels correlate with several unfavorable genetic and clinical features in NB, offering new insights into PA pathways and PA metabolism-targeting therapy in NB.