Publications by authors named "Steven H Lin"

223 Publications

Nucleus-mitochondria positive feedback loop formed by ERK5 S496 phosphorylation-mediated poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase activation provokes persistent pro-inflammatory senescent phenotype and accelerates coronary atherosclerosis after chemo-radiation.

Redox Biol 2021 Sep 20;47:102132. Epub 2021 Sep 20.

Department of Leukemia, Division of Center Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

The incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is higher in cancer survivors than in the general population. Several cancer treatments are recognized as risk factors for CVD, but specific therapies are unavailable. Many cancer treatments activate shared signaling events, which reprogram myeloid cells (MCs) towards persistent senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) and consequently CVD, but the exact mechanisms remain unclear. This study aimed to provide mechanistic insights and potential treatments by investigating how chemo-radiation can induce persistent SASP. We generated ERK5 S496A knock-in mice and determined SASP in myeloid cells (MCs) by evaluating their efferocytotic ability, antioxidation-related molecule expression, telomere length, and inflammatory gene expression. Candidate SASP inducers were identified by high-throughput screening, using the ERK5 transcriptional activity reporter cell system. Various chemotherapy agents and ionizing radiation (IR) up-regulated p90RSK-mediated ERK5 S496 phosphorylation. Doxorubicin and IR caused metabolic changes with nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide depletion and ensuing mitochondrial stunning (reversible mitochondria dysfunction without showing any cell death under ATP depletion) via p90RSK-ERK5 modulation and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) activation, which formed a nucleus-mitochondria positive feedback loop. This feedback loop reprogramed MCs to induce a sustained SASP state, and ultimately primed MCs to be more sensitive to reactive oxygen species. This priming was also detected in circulating monocytes from cancer patients after IR. When PARP activity was transiently inhibited at the time of IR, mitochondrial stunning, priming, macrophage infiltration, and coronary atherosclerosis were all eradicated. The p90RSK-ERK5 module plays a crucial role in SASP-mediated mitochondrial stunning via regulating PARP activation. Our data show for the first time that the nucleus-mitochondria positive feedback loop formed by p90RSK-ERK5 S496 phosphorylation-mediated PARP activation plays a crucial role of persistent SASP state, and also provide preclinical evidence supporting that transient inhibition of PARP activation only at the time of radiation therapy can prevent future CVD in cancer survivors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2021.102132DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8502954PMC
September 2021

Current status and application of proton therapy for esophageal cancer.

Radiother Oncol 2021 Sep 14;164:27-36. Epub 2021 Sep 14.

Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA. Electronic address:

Esophageal cancer remains one of the leading causes of death from cancer across the world despite advances in multimodality therapy. Although early-stage disease can often be treated surgically, the current state of the art for locally advanced disease is concurrent chemoradiation, followed by surgery whenever possible. The uniform midline tumor location puts a strong importance on the need for precise delivery of radiation that would minimize dose to the heart and lungs, and the biophysical properties of proton beam makes this modality potential ideal for esophageal cancer treatment. This review covers the current state of knowledge of proton therapy for esophageal cancer, focusing on published retrospective single- and multi-institutional clinical studies, and emerging data from prospective clinical trials, that support the benefit of protons vs photon-based radiation in reducing postoperative complications, cardiac toxicity, and severe radiation induced immune suppression, which may improve survival outcomes for patients. In addition, we discuss the incorporation of immunotherapy to the curative management of esophageal cancers in the not-too-distant future. However, there is still a lack of high-level evidence to support proton therapy in the treatment of esophageal cancer, and proton therapy has its limitations in clinical application. It is expected to see the results of future large-scale randomized clinical trials and the continuous improvement of proton radiotherapy technology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.radonc.2021.09.004DOI Listing
September 2021

Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy for operable stage I non-small-cell lung cancer (revised STARS): long-term results of a single-arm, prospective trial with prespecified comparison to surgery.

Lancet Oncol 2021 Oct 13;22(10):1448-1457. Epub 2021 Sep 13.

Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Background: A previous pooled analysis of the STARS and ROSEL trials showed higher survival after stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) than with surgery for operable early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but that analysis had notable limitations. This study reports long-term results of the revised STARS trial, in which the SABR group was re-accrued with a larger sample size, along with a protocol-specified propensity-matched comparison with a prospectively registered, contemporary institutional cohort of patients who underwent video-assisted thoracoscopic surgical lobectomy with mediastinal lymph node dissection (VATS L-MLND).

Methods: This single-arm prospective trial was done at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX, USA) and enrolled patients aged 18 years or older with a Zubrod performance status of 0-2, newly diagnosed and histologically confirmed NSCLC with N0M0 disease (squamous cell, adenocarcinoma, large cell, or NSCLC not otherwise specified), and a tumour diameter of 3 cm or less. This trial did not include patients from the previous pooled analysis. SABR dosing was 54 Gy in three fractions (for peripheral lesions) or 50 Gy in four fractions (for central tumours; simultaneous integrated boost to gross tumour totalling 60 Gy). The primary endpoint was the 3-year overall survival. For the propensity-matching analysis, we used a surgical cohort from the MD Anderson Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery's prospectively registered, institutional review board-approved database of all patients with clinical stage I NSCLC who underwent VATS L-MLND during the period of enrolment in this trial. Non-inferiority could be claimed if the 3-year overall survival rate after SABR was lower than that after VATS L-MLND by 12% or less and the upper bound of the 95% CI of the hazard ratio (HR) was less than 1·965. Propensity matching consisted of determining a propensity score using a multivariable logistic regression model including several covariates (age, tumour size, histology, performance status, and the interaction of age and sex); based on the propensity scores, one patient in the SABR group was randomly matched with one patient in the VATS L-MLND group using a 5:1 digit greedy match algorithm. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02357992.

Findings: Between Sept 1, 2015, and Jan 31, 2017, 80 patients were enrolled and included in efficacy and safety analyses. Median follow-up time was 5·1 years (IQR 3·9-5·8). Overall survival was 91% (95% CI 85-98) at 3 years and 87% (79-95) at 5 years. SABR was tolerated well, with no grade 4-5 toxicity and one (1%) case each of grade 3 dyspnoea, grade 2 pneumonitis, and grade 2 lung fibrosis. No serious adverse events were recorded. Overall survival in the propensity-matched VATS L-MLND cohort was 91% (95% CI 85-98) at 3 years and 84% (76-93) at 5 years. Non-inferiority was claimed since the 3-year overall survival after SABR was not lower than that observed in the VATS L-MLND group. There was no significant difference in overall survival between the two patient cohorts (hazard ratio 0·86 [95% CI 0·45-1·65], p=0·65) from a multivariable analysis.

Interpretation: Long-term survival after SABR is non-inferior to VATS L-MLND for operable stage IA NSCLC. SABR remains promising for such cases but multidisciplinary management is strongly recommended.

Funding: Varian Medical Systems and US National Cancer Institute (National Institutes of Health).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(21)00401-0DOI Listing
October 2021

Biology of the Radio- and Chemo-Responsiveness in HPV Malignancies.

Semin Radiat Oncol 2021 Oct;31(4):274-285

Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.

In multiple anatomic sites, patients with cancers associated with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) experience better locoregional control and overall survival after radiotherapy and/or chemoradiotherapy than patients with HPV-negative cancers. These improved outcomes suggest that relatively unique biological features in HPV-positive cancers may increase sensitivity to DNA damaging agents as well as an impaired DNA damage response. This review will address potential biological mechanisms driving this increased sensitivity of HPV-positive cancer to radiation and/or chemotherapy. This review will discuss the clinical and preclinical observations that support the intrinsic radiosensitivity and/or chemosensitivity of HPV-positive cancers. Furthermore, this review will highlight the molecular mechanisms for increased radiation sensitivity using the classical "4 Rs" of radiobiology: repair, reassortment, repopulation, and reoxygenation. First, HPV-positive cancers have increased DNA damage due to increased oxidative stress and impaired DNA damage repair due to the altered activity TP53, p16, TIP60, and other repair proteins. Second, irradiated HPV-positive cancer cells display increased G2/M arrest leading to reassortment of cancer cells in more radiosensitive phases of the cell cycle. In addition, HPV-positive cancers have less radioresistant cancer stem cell subpopulations that may limit their repopulation during radiotherapy. Finally, HPV-positive cancers may also have less hypoxic tumor microenvironments that make these cancers more sensitive to radiation than HPV-negative cells. We will also discuss extrinsic immune and microenvironmental factors enriched in HPV-positive cancers that facilities responses to radiation. Therefore, these potential biological mechanisms may underpin the improved clinical outcomes often observed in these virally induced cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semradonc.2021.02.009DOI Listing
October 2021

Moving Beyond the Standard of Care: Accelerate Testing of Radiation-Drug Combinations.

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2021 Aug 25. Epub 2021 Aug 25.

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Radiation therapy is a major treatment modality used in > 60% of cancer patients as definitive local treatment for inoperable locoregionally confined tumors and as palliative therapy. Although cytotoxic chemotherapy enhances the effectiveness of treatment, the benefit over radiation therapy alone is modest. There is a need to enhance the effectiveness of local tumor control over what sequentially or concurrently administered cytotoxic chemotherapy provides. Although many biological pathways are known to enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy, there is currently a paucity of drugs approved for use in combination. Several clinical trials have tested the effectiveness of combining targeted agents or immunotherapies with radiation therapy, but the results of these trials have been negative, likely stemming from the relative lack of preclinical evidence using appropriate experimental standardization or model systems. Accelerating the identification of agents tested in an appropriate clinical context and experimental systems or models would greatly enhance the potential to bring forward early testing of drugs that would not only be safe but also more effective. This article provides an overview of the opportunities and challenges of developing therapeutics to combine with radiation therapy, and some guidance toward preclinical and early clinical testing to improve the chance that advanced phase testing of drug-radiation combinations would be successful in the long term.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2021.08.018DOI Listing
August 2021

Severe lymphopenia acquired during chemoradiotherapy for esophageal cancer: Incidence and external validation of a prediction model.

Radiother Oncol 2021 Aug 25;163:192-198. Epub 2021 Aug 25.

Department of Radiation Oncology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Background: The incidence of grade 4 lymphopenia in patients treated with chemoradiotherapy (CRT) according to Chemoradiotherapy for Oesophageal cancer followed by Surgery Study (CROSS) regimen is unclear. The primary aim was to determine the incidence of grade 4 lymphopenia during CROSS for esophageal cancer. Secondary aims were to externally validate a prediction model for grade 4 lymphopenia and compare overall survival between patients with and without grade 4 lymphopenia.

Methods: Patients who underwent CRT for esophageal cancer between 2014 and 2019 were eligible for inclusion. Patients with a planned radiation dose of 41.4 Gy (CROSS) or 50.4 Gy ("extended-CROSS") and concurrent carboplatin and paclitaxel were included. The primary outcome was the incidence of grade 4 lymphopenia during CRT defined according to Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 5.0 (i.e. lymphocyte count nadir < 0.2 µL). The secondary outcome measures were the prediction model's external performance (i.e. discrimination and calibration). Overall survival for patients with versus without grade 4 lymphopenia was compared using Kaplan-Meier analysis.

Results: A total of 219 patients were included of whom 176 patients (80%) underwent CROSS and 43 patients (20%) extended-CROSS. The incidence of grade 4 lymphopenia was 11% in CROSS and 33% in extended-CROSS (p < 0.001). External discrimination yielded a c-statistic of 0.80 (95% confidence interval: 0.70-0.89). External calibration of the model was poor in CROSS but fair in extended-CROSS. Adjusted calibration using intercept correction (adjusted for the lower a-priori risk for grade 4 lymphopenia in CROSS) showed fair agreement between the observed and predicted risk for grade 4 lymphopenia. Median overall survival in patients with versus without grade 4 lymphopenia was 12.7 versus 42.5 months (p = 0.045).

Conclusion: The incidence of grade 4 lymphopenia is significantly higher in esophageal cancer patients receiving extended-CROSS compared to those receiving CROSS. The prediction model demonstrated good external performance in the setting of the CROSS-regimen and could be used to identify patients at high-risk for grade 4 lymphopenia who might be eligible for lymphopenia-mitigating strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.radonc.2021.08.009DOI Listing
August 2021

Care Patterns for Stereotactic Radiosurgery in Small Cell Lung Cancer Brain Metastases.

Clin Lung Cancer 2021 Jul 24. Epub 2021 Jul 24.

Department of Radiation Oncology, Colorado University School of Medicine, Aurora, CO. Electronic address:

Introduction: The historical standard of care for brain metastases (BMs) from small cell lung cancer (SCLC) has been whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT). However, there is growing interest in upfront stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for select SCLC patients.

Materials And Methods: We invited United State-based Radiation Oncologists (ROs) via email to answer an anonymous survey using a branching logic system addressing their use of SRS and WBRT for SCLC BMs. Wilcoxon rank-sum test and Fisher's exact test were used to compare differences in continuous and categorical variables, respectively. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were fitted for outcome variables including covariates with P < .10 obtained on univariable analysis.

Results: In total, 309 ROs completed the survey and 290 (95.7%) reported that they would consider SRS for SCLC BMs under certain clinical circumstances. Across patient characteristics, the number of BMs was the most heavily weighted factor (mean 4.3/5 in importance), followed by performance status, cognitive function, and response to prior therapy. Fewer BMs were correlated with increased SRS use (55.8% offered SRS "very frequently" [>75% of cases] or "often" [51%-75% of cases] for 1 BM vs. 1.1% for >10 BM, P < .001). In situations where WBRT was preferred, concern for rapid intracranial progression (45.3%) and lack of high-level data (36.9%) were the most important factors. The majority (60.6%) were aware of a large recent international retrospective analysis (the FIRE-SCLC study) reporting similar OS between upfront SRS and WBRT; awareness of this study was the only respondent variable predictive of SRS use for limited BMs (19.2% of those aware of the study preferring SRS for limited [≤4] BMs before vs. 61% preferring SRS after the publication, P < .001). The majority of respondents (88.2%) expressed a willingness to enroll patients on a recently opened recently opened randomized trial, NRG-CC009, comparing SRS versus hippocampal-avoidance WBRT.

Conclusions: In the first survey of SRS for SCLC BMs, we observed a high level of physician openness to upfront SRS in SCLC, particularly for patients with limited numbers of BMs, as well as significant interest in generating prospective randomized data to clarify the role of SRS in this population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cllc.2021.07.003DOI Listing
July 2021

High-Content Clonogenic Survival Screen to Identify Chemoradiation Sensitizers.

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2021 Aug 2. Epub 2021 Aug 2.

Department of Radiation Oncology, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas; Graduate School of Biological Sciences, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. Electronic address:

Purpose: The combination of cytotoxic chemotherapy with radiation therapy (CRT) has resulted in significant improvements in clinical outcomes for patients with many locally advanced unresectable cancers. Only a small proportion of patients achieve pathologic complete responses to CRT; combination of CRT with targeted agents offers the promise of further improving treatment responses. However, numerous clinical trials have failed to show an improvement in clinical outcomes with the addition of targeted agents. To increase the accessibility of our screening method and accelerate the pace at which novel combinations with CRT are identified and incorporated into standard practices for treatments, we report details on screening method optimization, data generation, and downstream data analysis.

Methods: In part, the gap in translation to large, expensive, and ultimately unsuccessful clinical trials reflects the shortcomings of inconsistently designed, executed, and reported preclinical data on which these studies are based. In an effort to standardize the selection of agents for future clinical testing, we have designed, optimized and validated a high throughput, high content, clonogenic assay platform for step-wise progression of preclinical studies from in vitro to in vivo in non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Results: This highly stable in vitro method was standardized for identification of the most promising CTEP drugs that could best be combined with CRT from among as screen of multiple agents tested in an unbiased manner using 96-well plates. The methodology lends itself to seamless testing of multiple agents in a similar fashion allowing cross-comparisons, evaluation of CRT, or radiation therapy alone, and testing multiple concentrations of test agents sequenced at different times before and after radiation. The method identified Trametinib as a strong CRT sensitizer in KRAS-mutant non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cell lines. This platform has enabled the screening and identification of several chemoradiation sensitizers.

Conclusions: High throughput, high content clonogenic drug screening assay allows for the rapid identification of targets and agents to be translated to the clinic to help improve the effectiveness of current standard of care CRT in various solid tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2021.07.1712DOI Listing
August 2021

Screening and Validation of Molecular Targeted Radiosensitizers.

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2021 Jul 31. Epub 2021 Jul 31.

OncoRay-National Center for Radiation Research in Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Dresden, Germany; German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany; German Cancer Consortium, Dresden, Germany; Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Institute of Radiooncology-OncoRay, Dresden, Germany; Department of Radiotherapy and Radiation Oncology`, Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany; National Center for Tumour Diseases, Dresden, Germany.

The development of molecular targeted drugs with radiation and chemotherapy is critically important for improving the outcomes of patients with hard-to-treat, potentially curable cancers. However, too many preclinical studies have not translated into successful radiation oncology trials. Major contributing factors to this insufficiency include poor reproducibility of preclinical data, inadequate preclinical modeling of intertumoral genomic heterogeneity that influences treatment sensitivity in the clinic, and a reliance on tumor growth delay instead of local control (TCD50) endpoints. There exists an urgent need to overcome these barriers to facilitate successful clinical translation of targeted radiosensitizers. To this end, we have used 3-dimensional (3D) cell culture assays to better model tumor behavior in vivo. Examples of successful prediction of in vivo effects with these 3D assays include radiosensitization of head and neck cancers by inhibiting epidermal growth factor receptor or focal adhesion kinase signaling, and radioresistance associated with oncogenic mutation of KRAS. To address the issue of tumor heterogeneity, we leveraged institutional resources that allow high-throughput 3D screening of radiation combinations with small-molecule inhibitors across genomically characterized cell lines from lung, head and neck, and pancreatic cancers. This high-throughput screen is expected to uncover genomic biomarkers that will inform the successful clinical translation of targeted agents from the National Cancer Institute Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program portfolio and other sources. Screening "hits" need to be subjected to refinement studies that include clonogenic assays, addition of disease-specific chemotherapeutics, target/biomarker validation, and integration of patient-derived tumor models. The chemoradiosensitizing activities of the most promising drugs should be confirmed in TCD50 assays in xenograft models with or without relevant biomarker and using clinically relevant radiation fractionation. We predict that appropriately validated and biomarker-directed targeted therapies will have a higher likelihood than past efforts of being successfully incorporated into the standard management of hard-to-treat tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2021.07.1694DOI Listing
July 2021

The Influence of Severe Radiation-Induced Lymphopenia on Overall Survival in Solid Tumors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2021 Nov 28;111(4):936-948. Epub 2021 Jul 28.

Departments of Radiation Oncology.

Purpose: Emerging evidence suggests a detrimental prognostic association between radiation-induced lymphopenia (RIL) and pathologic response, progression-free survival, and overall survival (OS) in patients who undergo radiation therapy for cancer. The aim of this study was to systematically review and meta-analyze the prognostic impact of RIL on OS in patients with solid tumors.

Methods And Materials: PubMed/MEDLINE and Embase were systematically searched. The analysis included intervention and prognostic studies that reported on the prognostic relationship between RIL and survival in patients with solid tumors. An overall pooled adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) was calculated using a random-effects model. Subgroup analyses for different patient-, tumor-, treatment-, and study-related characteristics were performed using meta-regression.

Results: Pooling of 21 cohorts within 20 eligible studies demonstrated a statistically significant association between OS and grade ≥3 versus grade 0-2 RIL (n = 16; pooled aHR, 1.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.43-1.90) and grade 4 RIL versus grade 0-3 (n = 5; aHR, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.24-1.90). Moderate heterogeneity among aHRs was observed, mostly attributable to overestimated aHRs in 7 studies likely subject to model-overfitting. Subgroup analysis showed significant prognostic impact of grade ≥3 RIL in 4 brain tumor (aHR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.06-2.51), 4 lung cancer (aHR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.01-2.29), and 3 pancreatic cancer (aHR, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.10-3.36) cohorts.

Conclusions: This meta-analysis demonstrates a significant detrimental prognostic association between grade ≥3 lymphopenia and OS in patients receiving radiation therapy for solid tumors. This finding appears consistent for tumors of the brain, thorax, and upper abdomen and provides an imperative to further elucidate the potential survival benefit of lymphopenia-mitigating strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2021.07.1695DOI Listing
November 2021

Assessment of Prognostic Value of High-Sensitivity Cardiac Troponin T for Early Prediction of Chemoradiation Therapy-Induced Cardiotoxicity in Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Secondary Analysis of a Prospective Randomized Trial.

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2021 Nov 21;111(4):907-916. Epub 2021 Jul 21.

Departments of Radiation Oncology. Electronic address:

Purpose: Cardiotoxicities induced by cancer therapy can negatively affect quality of life and survival. We investigated whether high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT) levels could serve as biomarker for early detection of cardiac adverse events (CAEs) after chemoradiation therapy (CRT) for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Methods And Materials: This study included 225 patients who received concurrent platinum and taxane-doublet chemotherapy with thoracic radiation therapy to a total dose of 60 to 74 Gy for NSCLC. All patients were evaluated for CAEs; 190 patients also had serial hs-cTnT measurements.

Results: Grade ≥3 CAEs occurred in 24 patients (11%) at a median interval of 9 months after CRT. Pretreatment hs-cTnT levels were higher in men, in patients aged ≥64 years, and in patients with pre-existing heart disease or poor performance status (P < .05). hs-cTnT levels increased at 4 weeks during CRT (P < .05) and decreased after completion of CRT but did not return to pretreatment levels (P = .002). The change (Δ) in hs-cTnT levels during CRT correlated with mean heart dose (P = .0004), the heart volumes receiving 5 to 55 Gy (P < .05), and tumor location (P = .006). Risks of severe CAEs and mortality were significantly increased if the pretreatment hs-cTnT was >10 ng/L or the Δ during CRT was ≥5 ng/L.

Conclusions: Elevation of hs-cTnT during CRT was radiation heart dose-dependent, and high hs-cTnT levels during the course of CRT were associated with CAEs and mortality. Routine monitoring of hs-cTnT could identify patients who are at high risk of CRT-induced CAEs early to guide modifications of cancer therapy and possible interventions to mitigate cardiotoxicity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2021.07.035DOI Listing
November 2021

National Quality Measure Compliance for Palliative Bone Radiation Among Patients With Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2021 May 26:1-6. Epub 2021 May 26.

1Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas; and.

Background: There exists wide practice variability in palliative treatment schedules for bone metastases. In an effort to reduce variation and promote high-quality, cost-conscious care, the National Quality Forum (NQF) endorsed measure 1822 in 2012. This measure recommends the use of 30 Gy in 10 fractions, 24 Gy in 6 fractions, 20 Gy in 5 fractions, or 8 Gy in a single fraction for palliative radiation for bone metastases. We report on longitudinal compliance with this measure.

Methods: Using the National Cancer Database, patients with metastatic thoracic non-small cell lung cancer diagnosed between 2004 and 2016 who received radiation therapy for bony sites of metastatic disease were identified. Treatment courses fitting 1 of the 4 recommended schedules under NQF 1822 were coded as compliant. Rates of compliance by patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics were analyzed.

Results: A total of 42,685 patients met the criteria for inclusion. Among all patients, 60.2% of treatment courses were compliant according to NQF 1822. Compliance increased over time and was highest for treatments to the extremity (69.8%), lowest for treatments to the skull or head (48.8%), and higher for academic practice (67.1%) compared with community (56.0%) or integrated network facilities (61.2%). On multivariable analysis, predictors of NQF 1822 compliance included year of diagnosis after 2011, treatment to an extremity, or treatment at an academic facility. Of noncompliant treatment courses, extended fractionation (≥11 fractions) occurred in 62.6% and was more common before 2012, in community practice, and for treatments of the skull or head.

Conclusions: Among patients treated for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, compliance with NQF 1822 increased over time. Although extended fractionation constituted a majority of noncompliant treatment courses, a substantial proportion also involved shorter courses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.6004/jnccn.2020.7688DOI Listing
May 2021

Cell lines of the same anatomic site and histologic type show large variability in intrinsic radiosensitivity and relative biological effectiveness to protons and carbon ions.

Med Phys 2021 Jun 9;48(6):3243-3261. Epub 2021 May 9.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX, USA.

Purpose: To show that intrinsic radiosensitivity varies greatly for protons and carbon (C) ions in addition to photons, and that DNA repair capacity remains important in governing this variability.

Methods: We measured or obtained from the literature clonogenic survival data for a number of human cancer cell lines exposed to photons, protons (9.9 keV/μm), and C-ions (13.3-77.1 keV/μm). We characterized their intrinsic radiosensitivity by the dose for 10% or 50% survival (D or D ), and quantified the variability at each radiation quality by the coefficient of variation (COV) in D and D . We also treated cells with DNA repair inhibitors prior to irradiation to assess how DNA repair capacity affects their variability.

Results: We found no statistically significant differences in the COVs of D or D between any of the radiation qualities investigated. The same was true regardless of whether the cells were treated with DNA repair inhibitors, or whether they were stratified into histologic subsets. Even within histologic subsets, we found remarkable differences in radiosensitivity for high LET C-ions that were often greater than the variations in RBE, with brain cancer cells varying in D (D ) up to 100% (131%) for 77.1 keV/μm C-ions, and non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer cell lines varying up to 55% (76%) and 51% (78%), respectively, for 60.5 keV/μm C-ions. The cell lines with modulated DNA repair capacity had greater variability in intrinsic radiosensitivity across all radiation qualities.

Conclusions: Even for cell lines of the same histologic type, there are remarkable variations in intrinsic radiosensitivity, and these variations do not differ significantly between photon, proton or C-ion radiation. The importance of DNA repair capacity in governing the variability in intrinsic radiosensitivity is not significantly diminished for higher LET radiation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mp.14878DOI Listing
June 2021

Prognosis of severe lymphopenia after postoperative radiotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer: Results of a long-term follow up study.

Clin Transl Radiat Oncol 2021 May 12;28:54-61. Epub 2021 Mar 12.

Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Purpose: To investigate the incidence and prognosis of severe radiation-induced lymphopenia (sRIL) after postoperative radiotherapy (PORT) for resected NSCLC.

Patients And Methods: Between 1998 and 2017, 170 patients treated with PORT for NSCLC were retrospectively reviewed. Lymphopenia was divided into tertiles with severe lymphopenia defined as absolute lymphocyte counts (ALC) < 0.37 × 10/ul.

Results: sRIL was observed in 32.3% of patients. Multivariable logistic regression analysis indicated sRIL was associated with planning target volume radiation fraction numbers (OR 1.09,  = 0.005) and total lung mean dose (OR 1.12,  = 0.006). With a median follow-up time of 12.2 years, the median progression-free survival and overall survival were 14.8 months and 28.4 months respectively in patients with sRIL, vs. 21.7 months ( = 0.008) and 48.3 months ( = 0.01) respectively in patients without sRIL. Multivariable analyses indicated sRIL significantly decreased OS (HR 1.95,  < 0.01). Since PORT for stage I-II NSCLC was done largely for positive margins, which may confound the contribution of severe RIL, we analyzed stage III separately and found that sRIL also significantly decreased OS (HR 1.88,  = 0.004) in multivariable analysis.

Conclusion: For this long-term outcome study, severe RIL correlated with total lung mean dose and radiation fractionation numbers, and was a strong prognostic factor for poor survival in PORT patients, particularly in patients with stage III NSCLC, highlighting the importance of an intact immune system for post-radiation immunologic disease surveillance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctro.2021.02.011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7985216PMC
May 2021

Single Institution Experience of Proton and Photon-based Postoperative Radiation Therapy for Non-small-cell Lung Cancer.

Clin Lung Cancer 2021 Sep 7;22(5):e745-e755. Epub 2021 Feb 7.

Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX. Electronic address:

Introduction: Postoperative radiation therapy (PORT) for non-small-cell lung cancer remains controversial with studies showing no overall survival (OS) benefit in the setting of excessive cardiopulmonary toxicity. Proton beam therapy (PBT) can potentially reduce toxicity with improved organ-at-risk sparing. We evaluated outcomes of PORT patients treated with PBT and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).

Materials And Methods: This is a retrospective review of 136 PORT patients (61 PBT, 75 IMRT) treated from 2003 to 2016. A Kaplan-Meier analysis was performed to assess oncologic outcomes. A Cox regression was conducted to identify associated factors. Total toxicity burden (TTB) was defined as grade ≥ 2 pneumonitis, cardiac, or esophageal toxicity.

Results: Median OS was 76 and 46 months for PBT and IMRT with corresponding 1- and 5-year OS of 85.3%, 50.9% and 89.3%, 37.2% (P = .38), respectively. V30 Gy heart (odds ratio [OR], 144.9; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.91-7214; P = .013) and V5 Gy lung (OR, 15.8; 95% CI, 1.22-202.7; P = .03) were predictive of OS. Organ-at-risk sparing was improved with PBT versus IMRT; mean heart 2.0 versus 7.4 Gy (P < .01), V30 Gy heart 2.6% versus 10.7% (P < .01), mean lung 7.9 versus 10.4 Gy (P = .042), V5 Gy lung 23.4% versus 42.1% (P < .01), and V10 Gy lung 20.4% versus 29.6% (P < .01). TTB was reduced with PBT (OR, 0.35; 95% CI, 0.15-0.83; P = .017). Rates of cardiac toxicity were 14.7% IMRT and 4.9% PBT (P = .09). Rates of ≥ grade 2 pneumonitis were 17.0% IMRT and 4.9% PBT (P = .104).

Conclusion: PBT improved cardiac and lung sparing and reduced toxicity compared with IMRT. Considering the impact of cardiopulmonary toxicity on PORT outcomes, PBT warrants prospective evaluation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cllc.2021.02.002DOI Listing
September 2021

Association Between Sex and Immune-Related Adverse Events During Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Therapy.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2021 Oct;113(10):1396-1404

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston McGovern Medical School, Houston, TX, USA.

Background: Accumulated evidence supports the existence of sex-associated differences in immune systems. Understanding the role of sex in immune-related adverse events (irAEs) is important for management of irAE in patients receiving immunotherapy.

Methods: We performed meta-analysis on published clinical study data and multivariable logistic regression on pharmacovigilance data and applied a propensity algorithm to The Cancer Genome Atlas omics data. We further validated our observations in 2 independent in-house cohorts of 179 and 767 cancer patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Results: A meta-analysis using 13 clinical studies that reported on 1096 female patients (36.8%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 35.0% to 38.5%) and 1886 male patients (63.2%, 95% CI = 61.5% to 65.0%) demonstrated no statistically significant irAE risk difference between the sexes (odds ratio [OR] = 1.19, 95% CI = 0.91 to 1.54, 2-sided P = .21). Multivariable logistic regression analysis of 12 225 patients from the Food and drug administration Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) and 10 979 patients from VigiBase showed no statistically significant difference in irAEs by sex. A propensity score algorithm used on multi-omics data for 6019 patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas found no statistically significant difference by sex for irAE-related factors or pathways. The retrospective analysis of 2 in-house patient cohorts validated these results (OR = 1.55, 95% CI = 0.98 to 2.47, false discovery rate = 0.13, for cohort 1; OR = 1.16, 95% CI = 0.86 to 1.57, false discovery rate = 0.39, for cohort 2).

Conclusions: We observed minimal sex-associated differences in irAEs among cancer patients who received immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. It may be unnecessary to consider sex effects for irAE management in clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djab035DOI Listing
October 2021

Radiation-Associated Lymphopenia and Outcomes of Patients with Unresectable Hepatocellular Carcinoma Treated with Radiotherapy.

J Hepatocell Carcinoma 2021 3;8:57-69. Epub 2021 Mar 3.

Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Background: The immune system plays a crucial role in cancer surveillance. Previous studies have shown that lymphopenia associated with radiotherapy (RT) portends a poor prognosis. We sought to differentiate the effects of proton and photon RT on changes in absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Patients And Methods: Patients with HCC treated with definitive RT from 2006 to 2016 were studied. Serial ALCs were graded according to CTCAE v4.0. Overall survival (OS), disease-free survival, and distant metastasis-free survival were analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method. Univariable and multivariable Cox-proportional hazards analyses were used to identify predictors of OS. A cohort analysis matched for treatment volume was performed to investigate differences in ALC dynamics between photon and proton therapy.

Results: Of 143 patients identified, the median age was 66 (range, 19-90) years. The treatment modality was photon in 103 (72%) and proton in 40 (28%). Median follow-up was 17 months (95% confidence interval, 13-25 months). The median time to ALC nadir after initiation of RT was 17 days with a median relative decrease of 67%. Those who received proton RT had a higher median ALC nadir (0.41 vs 0.32 k/µL, p=0.002) and longer median OS (33 vs 13 months, p=0.002) than those who received photon RT. Matched cohort analyses revealed a larger low-dose liver volume in the photon group, which correlated with lower ALC. On multivariable Cox analysis, Grade 3 or higher lymphopenia prior to or after RT, portal venous tumor thrombus, larger planning target volumes, Child-Pugh (CP) Class B, and increased CP score after RT were associated with a higher risk of death, whereas the use of proton therapy was associated with lower risk.

Conclusion: Grade 3 or higher lymphopenia may be associated with poorer outcomes in patients receiving RT for HCC. Protons may mitigate lymphopenia compared with photons, potentially due to reduced dose exposure of sites of lymphopoiesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/JHC.S282062DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7937383PMC
March 2021

Corrigendum: p90RSK-MAGI1 Module Controls Endothelial Permeability by Post-translational Modifications of MAGI1 and Hippo Pathway.

Front Cardiovasc Med 2021 19;8:663486. Epub 2021 Feb 19.

Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, Center for Cardiovascular Regeneration, Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston, TX, United States.

[This corrects the article DOI: 10.3389/fcvm.2020.542485.].
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fcvm.2021.663486DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7934140PMC
February 2021

Patient-Specific Lymphocyte Loss Kinetics as Biomarker of Spleen Dose in Patients Undergoing Radiation Therapy for Upper Abdominal Malignancies.

Adv Radiat Oncol 2021 Jan-Feb;6(1):100545. Epub 2020 Aug 10.

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Purpose: Radiation therapy (RT)-induced lymphopenia (RIL) is linked with inferior survival in esophageal and pancreatic cancers. Previous work has demonstrated a correlation between spleen dose and RIL risk. The present study correlates spleen dose-volume parameters with fractional lymphocyte loss rate (FLL) and total percent change in absolute lymphocyte count (%ΔALC) and suggests spleen dose constraints to reduce RIL risk.

Methods And Materials: This registry-based study included 140 patients who underwent RT for pancreatic (n = 67), gastroesophageal (n = 61), or biliary tract (n = 12) adenocarcinoma. Patient-specific parameters of lymphocyte loss kinetics, including FLL and %ΔALC, were calculated based on serial ALCs obtained during RT. Spearman's rho was used to correlate spleen dose-volume parameters with %ΔALC, end-treatment ALC, and FLL. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify predictors of ≥grade 3 and grade 4 RIL.

Results: Spleen dose-volume parameters, including mean spleen dose (MSD), all correlated with %ΔALC, end-treatment ALC, and FLL. Controlling for baseline ALC and planning target volume (PTV), an increase in any spleen dose-volume parameter increased the odds of developing ≥grade 3 lymphopenia. Each 1-Gy increase in MSD increased the odds of ≥grade 3 RIL by 18.6%, and each 100-cm increase in PTV increased the odds of ≥grade 3 lymphopenia by 20%. Patients with baseline ALC < 1500 cells/μL had a high risk of ≥grade 3 RIL regardless of MSD or PTV. FLL was an equally good predictor of ≥grade 3 lymphopenia as any spleen dose-volume parameter.

Conclusions: In patients undergoing RT for upper abdominal malignancies, higher spleen dose is associated with higher per-fraction lymphocyte loss rates, higher total %ΔALC, and increased odds of severe lymphopenia. Spleen dose constraints should be individualized based on baseline ALC and PTV size to minimize RIL risk, although our findings require validation in larger, ideally prospective data sets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.adro.2020.08.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7897770PMC
August 2020

p90RSK-MAGI1 Module Controls Endothelial Permeability by Post-translational Modifications of MAGI1 and Hippo Pathway.

Front Cardiovasc Med 2020 13;7:542485. Epub 2020 Nov 13.

Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, Center for Cardiovascular Regeneration, Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston, TX, United States.

Previously, we reported that post-translational modifications (PTMs) of MAGI1, including S741 phosphorylation and K931 de-SUMOylation, both of which are regulated by p90RSK activation, lead to endothelial cell (EC) activation. However, roles for p90RSK and MAGI1-PTMs in regulating EC permeability remain unclear despite MAGI1 being a junctional molecule. Here, we show that thrombin (Thb)-induced EC permeability, detected by the electric cell-substrate impedance sensing (ECIS) based system, was decreased by overexpression of dominant negative p90RSK or a MAGI1-S741A phosphorylation mutant, but was accelerated by overexpression of p90RSK, siRNA-mediated knockdown of , or the MAGI1-K931R SUMOylation mutant. MAGI1 depletion also increased the mRNA and protein expression of the large tumor suppressor kinases 1 and 2 (LATS1/2), which inhibited YAP/TAZ activity and increased EC permeability. Because the endothelial barrier is a critical mediator of tumor hypoxia, we also evaluated the role of p90RSK activation in tumor vessel leakiness by using a relatively low dose of the p90RSK specific inhibitor, FMK-MEA. FMK-MEA significantly inhibited tumor vessel leakiness at a dose that does not affect morphology and growth of tumor vessels . These results provide novel insights into crucial roles for p90RSK-mediated MAGI1 PTMs and the Hippo pathway in EC permeability, as well as p90RSK activation in tumor vessel leakiness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fcvm.2020.542485DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7693647PMC
November 2020

Optimizing current standard of care therapy for stage III non-small cell lung cancer.

Transl Lung Cancer Res 2020 Oct;9(5):2033-2039

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

The management of stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains complex and controversial, with a myriad of potentially feasible options. Given the diversity of non-surgical as well as surgical options, along with recent randomized data regarding adjuvant immunotherapy that has re-defined the standard of care for unresected stage III NSCLC cases, the goal of this narrative review was to provide a contemporary view at how management of these patients can be further optimized. Topics discussed include the following items: optimizing toxicity mitigation strategies (in order to avoid impaired receipt of subsequent therapies), the importance of multidisciplinary tumor boards (MTBs) and multidisciplinary clinics (MDCs), adhering to treatment approaches endorsed by national guidelines, prudently selecting patients for surgical intervention (as compared to non-operative approaches), coordination of multidisciplinary care so as to best preserve all potential therapeutic options, and addressing challenges regarding disparities in access to oncologic care. This review places particular emphasis for community and/or rural centers, which may not have the same level of resources and/or personnel as larger academic institutions. Taken together, these strategies are aimed towards the overarching goal of streamlining oncologic care for stage III NSCLC cases in light of the numerous approaches that currently exist for these patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.21037/tlcr-20-603DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7653132PMC
October 2020

Enumeration and molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells enriched by microcavity array from stage III non-small cell lung cancer patients.

Transl Lung Cancer Res 2020 Oct;9(5):1974-1985

Department of Hematopathology Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Background: Various methods of liquid biopsy through the sampling of blood in cancer patients allow access to minuscule amounts of tumor that can easily be sampled repeatedly throughout therapy. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) represent shed tumor cells that can be characterized by imaging or molecular techniques using an amenable enrichment platform. Here we validate the Hitachi Chemical Micro Cavity Array (MCA) for the enrichment of CTCs from the blood of patients diagnosed with stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). MCA is a semi-automated filtration system that enriches CTCs on the basis of size and membrane deformability rather than a biased selection of surface antigens.

Methods: CTCs were enriched from the peripheral blood of 38 patients diagnosed with stage III NSCLC at the start of chemoradiation. Two tubes of EDTA blood were collected from each patient and processed through MCA in parallel. In the first tube, CTCs were identified as pan-cytokeratin (CK)+ CD45- nucleated cells and enumerated. The second tube was depleted of leukocytes using CD45 antibody-coated magnetic microbeads before enrichment by MCA, followed by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) to interrogate CTC-enriched lysates for expression of 16 target mRNAs from a panel of epithelial, mesenchymal, stem-like, and cancer signaling-related genes. CTC-enriched lysates from similarly prepared peripheral blood samples from 18 healthy donors were used to define positive gene expression.

Results: CTCs were identified by imaging in 30 of 38 patient samples (79%). At least 1 target gene was positively expressed in 23 of 25 (92%) patient samples that was subjected to molecular characterization. A CTC count of ≥7 was associated with poor progression-free survival (PFS) [hazard ratio (HR) 4.24, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.73-10.40, P=0.020] and poor overall survival (HR 8.17, 95% CI, 2.87-23.26, P<0.001). Expression of BCL2 by MCA-enriched CTCs was associated with poor PFS (HR 3.11, 95% CI, 1.18-8.22, P=0.022). Individually, CTC count and expression of BCL2 each remained statistically significant predictors of disease progression and overall survival in multivariate analysis.

Conclusions: This is the first demonstration that lysates of MCA-enriched CTCs are amenable to molecular characterization. CTCs enriched by MCA are an independent prognostic marker in NSCLC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.21037/tlcr-20-841DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7653158PMC
October 2020

Plasmonic nano-aperture label-free imaging (PANORAMA).

Nat Commun 2020 11 16;11(1):5805. Epub 2020 Nov 16.

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun Road, Houston, TX, 77204, USA.

Label-free optical imaging of nanoscale objects faces fundamental challenges. Techniques based on propagating surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) have shown promises. However, challenges remain to achieve diffraction-limited resolution and better surface localization in SPR imaging. LSPR imaging with dark-field microscopy on metallic nanostructures suffers from low light throughput and insufficient imaging capacity. Here we show ultra-near-field index modulated PlAsmonic NanO-apeRture lAbel-free iMAging (PANORAMA) which uniquely relies on unscattered light to detect sub-100 nm dielectric nanoparticles. PANORAMA provides diffraction-limited resolution, higher surface sensitivity, and wide-field imaging with dense spatial sampling. Its system is identical to a standard bright-field microscope with a lamp and a camera - no laser or interferometry is needed. In a parallel fashion, PANORAMA can detect, count and size individual dielectric nanoparticles beyond 25 nm, and dynamically monitor their distance to the plasmonic surface at millisecond timescale.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19678-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7670455PMC
November 2020

Toxicity and Survival After Intensity-Modulated Proton Therapy Versus Passive Scattering Proton Therapy for NSCLC.

J Thorac Oncol 2021 02 22;16(2):269-277. Epub 2020 Oct 22.

Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. Electronic address:

Objective: Although intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMPT) is dosimetrically superior to passive scattering proton therapy (PSPT) for locally advanced NSCLC (LA-NSCLC), direct comparisons of clinical outcomes are lacking. Here, we compare toxicity profiles and clinical outcomes after IMPT versus PSPT for LA-NSCLC.

Methods: This is a nonrandomized, comparative study of two independent cohorts with LA-NSCLC (stage II-IIIB, stage IV with solitary brain metastasis) treated with concurrent chemotherapy and proton beam therapy. Toxicity (Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 4.0) and outcomes were prospectively collected as part of a clinical trial (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT00915005) or prospective registry (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT00991094).

Results: Of 139 patients, 86 (62%) received PSPT and 53 (38%) IMPT; median follow-up times were 23.9 and 29.0 months, respectively. IMPT delivered lower mean radiation doses to the lungs (PSPT 16.0 Gy versus IMPT 13.0 Gy, p < 0.001), heart (10.7 Gy versus 6.6 Gy, p = 0.004), and esophagus (27.4 Gy versus 21.8 Gy, p = 0.005). Consequently, the IMPT cohort had lower rates of grade 3 or higher pulmonary (17% versus 2%, p = 0.005) and cardiac (11% versus 0%, p = 0.01) toxicities. Six patients (7%) with PSPT and zero patients (0%) with IMPT experienced grade 4 or 5 toxicity. Lower rates of pulmonary (28% versus 3%, p = 0.006) and cardiac (14% versus 0%, p = 0.05) toxicities were observed in the IMPT cohort even after propensity score matching for baseline imbalances. There was also a trend toward longer median overall survival in the IMPT group (23.9 mo versus 36.2 mo, p = 0.09). No difference was found in the 3-year rates of local (25% versus 20%, p = 0.44), local-regional (29% versus 36%, p = 0.56) and distant (52% versus 51%, p = 0.71) recurrences.

Conclusions: IMPT is associated with lower radiation doses to the lung, heart, and esophagus, and lower rates of grade 3 or higher cardiopulmonary toxicity; additional clinical studies will be needed to assess the potential differences in survival between the two techniques.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2020.10.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7855203PMC
February 2021

Cancer associated macrophage-like cells and prognosis of esophageal cancer after chemoradiation therapy.

J Transl Med 2020 11 4;18(1):413. Epub 2020 Nov 4.

Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX, 77030, USA.

Background: Cancer Associated Macrophage-Like cells (CAMLs) are polynucleated circulating stromal cells found in the bloodstream of numerous solid-tumor malignancies. Variations within CAML size have been associated with poorer progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in a variety of cancers; however, no study has evaluated their clinical significance in esophageal cancer (EC).

Methods: To examine this significance, we ran a 2 year prospective pilot study consisting of newly diagnosed stage I-III EC patients (n = 32) receiving chemoradiotherapy (CRT). CAML sizes were sequentially monitored prior to CRT (BL), ~ 2 weeks into treatment (T1), and at the first available sample after the completion of CRT (T2).

Results: We found CAMLs in 88% (n = 28/32) of all patient samples throughout the trial, with a sensitivity of 76% (n = 22/29) in pre-treatment screening samples. Improved 2 year PFS and OS was found in patients with CAMLs < 50 μm by the completion of CRT over patients with CAMLs ≥ 50 μm; PFS (HR = 12.0, 95% CI = 2.7-54.1, p = 0.004) and OS (HR = 9.0, 95%CI = 1.9-43.5, p = 0.019).

Conclusions: Tracking CAML sizes throughout CRT as a minimally invasive biomarker may serve as a prognostic tool in mapping EC progression, and further studies are warranted to determine if presence of these cells prior to treatment suggest diagnostic value for at-risk populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12967-020-02563-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7640696PMC
November 2020

Pembrolizumab with or without radiotherapy for metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer: a pooled analysis of two randomised trials.

Lancet Respir Med 2021 05 20;9(5):467-475. Epub 2020 Oct 20.

Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA. Electronic address:

Background: Radiotherapy might augment systemic antitumoral responses to immunotherapy. In the PEMBRO-RT (phase 2) and MDACC (phase 1/2) trials, patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer were randomly allocated immunotherapy (pembrolizumab) with or without radiotherapy. When the trials were analysed individually, a potential benefit was noted in the combination treatment arm. However, owing to the small sample size of each trial, differences in response rates and outcomes were not statistically significant but remained clinically notable. We therefore did a pooled analysis to infer whether radiotherapy improves responses to immunotherapy in patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer.

Methods: Inclusion criteria for the PEMBRO-RT and MDACC trials were patients (aged ≥18 years) with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer and at least one unirradiated lesion to monitor for out-of-field response. In the PEMBRO-RT trial, patients had previously received chemotherapy, whereas in the MDACC trial, patients could be either previously treated or newly diagnosed. Patients in both trials were immunotherapy-naive. In the PEMBRO-RT trial, patients were randomly assigned (1:1) and stratified by smoking status (<10 vs ≥10 pack-years). In the MDACC trial, patients were entered into one of two cohorts based on radiotherapy schedule feasibility and randomly assigned (1:1). Because of the nature of the intervention in the combination treatment arm, blinding to radiotherapy was not feasible in either trial. Pembrolizumab was administered intravenously (200 mg every 3 weeks) with or without radiotherapy in both trials. In the PEMBRO-RT trial, the first dose of pembrolizumab was given sequentially less than 1 week after the last dose of radiotherapy (24 Gy in three fractions), whereas in the MDACC trial, pembrolizumab was given concurrently with the first dose of radiotherapy (50 Gy in four fractions or 45 Gy in 15 fractions). Only unirradiated lesions were measured for response. The endpoints for this pooled analysis were best out-of-field (abscopal) response rate (ARR), best abscopal disease control rate (ACR), ARR at 12 weeks, ACR at 12 weeks, progression-free survival, and overall survival. The intention-to-treat populations from both trials were included in analyses. The PEMBRO-RT trial (NCT02492568) and the MDACC trial (NCT02444741) are registered with ClinicalTrials.gov.

Findings: Overall, 148 patients were included in the pooled analysis, 76 of whom had been assigned pembrolizumab and 72 who had been assigned pembrolizumab plus radiotherapy. Median follow-up for all patients was 33 months (IQR 32·4-33·6). 124 (84%) of 148 patients had non-squamous histological features and 111 (75%) had previously received chemotherapy. Baseline variables did not differ between treatment groups, including PD-L1 status and metastatic disease volume. The most frequently irradiated sites were lung metastases (28 of 72 [39%]), intrathoracic lymph nodes (15 of 72 [21%]), and lung primary disease (12 of 72 [17%]). Best ARR was 19·7% (15 of 76) with pembrolizumab versus 41·7% (30 of 72) with pembrolizumab plus radiotherapy (odds ratio [OR] 2·96, 95% CI 1·42-6·20; p=0·0039), and best ACR was 43·4% (33 of 76) with pembrolizumab versus 65·3% (47 of 72) with pembrolizumab plus radiotherapy (2·51, 1·28-4·91; p=0·0071). Median progression-free survival was 4·4 months (IQR 2·9-5·9) with pembrolizumab alone versus 9·0 months (6·8-11·2) with pembrolizumab plus radiotherapy (hazard ratio [HR] 0·67, 95% CI 0·45-0·99; p=0·045), and median overall survival was 8·7 months (6·4-11·0) with pembrolizumab versus 19·2 months (14·6-23·8) with pembrolizumab plus radiotherapy (0·67, 0·54-0·84; p=0·0004). No new safety concerns were noted in the pooled analysis.

Interpretation: Adding radiotherapy to pembrolizumab immunotherapy significantly increased responses and outcomes in patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer. These results warrant validation in a randomised phase 3 trial.

Funding: Merck Sharp & Dohme.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30391-XDOI Listing
May 2021

Multi-institutional Evaluation of Curative Intent Chemoradiotherapy for Patients With Clinical T1N0 Esophageal Adenocarcinoma.

Adv Radiat Oncol 2020 Sep-Oct;5(5):951-958. Epub 2020 Apr 27.

Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Purpose: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of definitive chemoradiotherapy (CRT) for patients with clinical T1N0M0 esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Methods And Materials: This was a retrospective study of patients with clinical T1N0 adenocarcinoma of the esophagus treated with curative-intent CRT between 2004 and 2017 at 2 tertiary care centers. Patients received CRT instead of esophagectomy owing to medical comorbidities or patient preference. Toxicities were evaluated according to Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 4.03. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate overall, progression-free, and disease-specific survivals.

Results: Twenty-eight patients were included for analysis. Median age was 76 years (range 55-90). The majority of patients were male (93%) and had a history of Barrett's esophagus (71%). Tumor characteristics included distal esophagus location (93%), clinical stage T1b (86%), and median length of 2 cm (range, 1-9). Prior endoscopic resection was performed in 57%.The median follow-up was 44 months (range, 4-146). The acute grade 3 adverse events were observed in 7 patients (25%). One patient died of complications potentially related to chemoradiation. Eight patients (29%) had disease progression at a median of 7.6 months after CRT. First site of progression was local only (14%), local and regional (11%), or distant (4%). Salvage locally directed treatment was performed in 3 of 4 patients with local-only recurrence. The 3-year overall survival, progression-free, and disease-specific rates were 78%, 62%, and 81%, respectively.

Conclusion: CRT is a safe and effective curative treatment strategy for select patients with clinical T1N0M0 esophageal adenocarcinoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.adro.2020.03.020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7557140PMC
April 2020

Pembrolizumab with or without radiation therapy for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer: a randomized phase I/II trial.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 10;8(2)

Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.

Background: In this phase I/II trial, we evaluated the safety and effectiveness of pembrolizumab, with or without concurrent radiotherapy (RT), for lung and liver lesions from metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (mNSCLC).

Methods: Patients with lung or liver lesions amenable to RT plus at least one additional non-contiguous lesion were included regardless of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) status. Pembrolizumab was given at 200 mg every 3 weeks for up to 32 cycles with or without concurrent RT. Metastatic lesions were treated with stereotactic body RT (SBRT; 50 Gy in 4 fractions) if clinically feasible or with traditionally fractionated RT (45 Gy in 15 fractions) if not. The primary end point was the best out-of-field lesion response, and a key secondary end point was progression-free survival (PFS).

Results: The median follow-up time was 20.4 months. One hundred patients (20 phase I, 80 phase II) were evaluable for toxicity, and 72 phase II patients were evaluable for treatment response. No patients in the phase I group experienced grade 4-5 events; in the phase II group, two had grade 4 events and nine had grade 3 events. The ORR in the combined-modality cohort (irrespective of RT schema) was 22%, vs 25% in the pembrolizumab group (irrespective of receipt of salvage RT) (p=0.99). In the concurrent pembrolizumab+RT groups, the out-of-field ORRs were 38% in the pembrolizumab+SBRT group and 10% in the pembrolizumab+traditional RT group. When examining the pembrolizumab-alone patients, the out-of-field ORRs were 33% in those designated to receive salvage SBRT (if required) and 17% for salvage traditional RT. In all patients, the median PFS for pembrolizumab alone was 5.1 months (95% CI 3.4 to 12.7 months), and pembrolizumab/RT (regardless of schema) was 9.1 months (95% CI 3.6 to 18.4 months) (p=0.52). An exploratory analysis revealed that for patients with low PD-L1 expression, the median PFS was 4.6 vs 20.8 months for pembrolizumab with and without RT, respectively (p=0.004).

Conclusions: Concurrent immunoradiotherapy for mNSCLC is safe, although larger trials are required to address which patients benefit most from RT.

Trial Registration Number: NCT02444741.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-001001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7555111PMC
October 2020

Modern Radiotherapy and Risk of Cardiotoxicity.

Chemotherapy 2020 13;65(3-4):65-76. Epub 2020 Oct 13.

Department of Cardiology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA,

Despite the advancements of modern radiotherapy, radiation-induced heart disease remains a common cause of morbidity and mortality amongst cancer survivors. This review outlines the basic mechanism, clinical presentation, risk stratification, early detection, possible mitigation, and treatment of this condition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000510573DOI Listing
June 2021
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