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Protein signals obtained directly from frozen lung tissue sections using MALDI-MS were used to predict nodal involvement and survival in resected non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We have identified a list of these protein signals and further evaluated their prognostic values for NSCLC using immunohistochemistry (IHC). Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to assess the mortality risk associated with the prognostic protein IHC-staining intensities. The combined IHC scores of calmodulin, thymosin β4, and thymosin β10 were found to be correlated with NSCLC patient survival (p = 0.004). Furthermore, low cofilin-1 IHC-staining intensity was found to be correlated with a better outcome for patients with negative lymph node status (p = 0.006) while high cofilin-1 IHC-staining intensity was found to be correlated with a better outcome for patients with positive node status (p = 0.034). In conclusion, the prognostic protein signals selected using MALDI-MS can be identified and tested by IHC in formalin-fixed tissue samples. MALDI-MS-derived protein signals can be potentially translated to a conventional clinical setting to aid in the prognosis of patients with NSCLC at the molecular level.
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