Background: CD44 variant 9 (CD44v9) has been reported to suppress reactive oxygen spices (ROS) in association with antioxidant factors such as glutathione (GSH) and glutathione peroxidase 2 (GPx2), resulting in promoted tumor growth. Methods: CD44v9 and GPx2 expression were investigated by immunohistochemistry in resected specimens from 193 gastric cancer (GC) patients without preoperative chemotherapy and in pretreatment biopsy specimens from 29 GC patients with preoperative chemotherapy. We analyzed the relationship between CD44v9 expression and clinicopathological factors, prognosis, and pathological response to chemotherapy. In GC cell lines, we examined the relationship between CD44v9 expression and chemotherapeutic sensitivity. Results: In patients without preoperative chemotherapy, CD44v9 expression was significantly associated with depth of invasion, lymphatic permeation, vascular invasion, distant metastasis and GPx2 expression. In multivariate analysis, CD44v9 expression was an independent poor prognosis factor for overall survival and recurrence-free survival. In patients with preoperative chemotherapy, CD44v9 expression was significantly associated with worse pathological response and GPx2 expression. In GC cell lines, downregulation of CD44v9 expression enhanced chemotherapeutic sensitivity to 5-fluorouracil with changing GSH and ROS levels. Conclusions: CD44v9-positive expression was associated with chemotherapeutic resistance by controlling intracellular accumulated ROS, suggesting that CD44v9 may be a predictive biomarker for chemotherapy in GC.
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