Differential telomerase expression in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and non-small cell lung cancer.Oncol Rep. 2013 Dec; 30(6):2617-24.OR
Telomerase is a reverse transcriptase ribonucleo-protein (h-TERT) that synthesizes telomeric repeats using its RNA component (h-TERC) as a template. Telomerase dysfunction has been associated with both fibrogenesis and carcinogenesis. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the telomerase mRNA expression levels of both subunits (h-TERT and h-TERC) in lung tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), since there are indications of common pathogenetic pathways in these diseases. We prospectively examined lung tissue samples from 29 patients with IPF, 10 patients with NSCLC and 21 controls. Furthermore, we examined BALF samples from 31 patients with NSCLC, 23 patients with IPF and 12 control subjects. The mRNA expression for both h-TERT and h-TERC was measured by real-time RT-PCR. In the lung tissue samples, both h-TERT and h-TERC mRNA expression levels varied among the 3 groups (p=0.036 and p=0.002, respectively). h-TERT mRNA levels in the patients with IPF were lower compared with those in the controls (p=0.009) and patients with NSCLC (p=0.004). h-TERC mRNA levels in the patients with IPF were lower compared with those in the controls (p=0.0005) and patients with NSCLC (p=0.0004). In the BALF samples, h-TERT mRNA expression levels varied among the groups (p=0.012). More specifically, h-TERT mRNA levels in the patients with IPF were higher compared with those in the controls (p=0.03) and patients with NSCLC (p=0.007). The attenuation of telomerase gene expression in IPF in comparison to lung cancer suggests a differential role of this regulatory gene in fibrogenesis and carcinogenesis. Further functional studies are required in order to further elucidate the role of telomerase in these devastating diseases.