The expression profiles of ADME genes in human cancers and their associations with clinical outcomes

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ADME genes are a group of genes that are involved in drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME). The expression profiles of ADME genes within tumours is proposed to impact on cancer patient survival; however, this has not been systematically examined. In this study, our comprehensive analyses of pan-cancer datasets from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) revealed differential intratumoral expression profiles for ADME genes in 21 different cancer types. Most genes also showed high interindividual variability within cancer-specific patient cohorts. Using Kaplan-Meier plots and logrank tests, we showed that intratumoral expression levels of twenty of the thirty-two core ADME genes were associated with overall survival (OS) in these cancers. Of these genes, five showed significant association with unfavourable OS in three cancers, including SKCM (ABCC2, GSTP1), KIRC (CYP2D6, CYP2E1), PAAD (UGT2B7); sixteen showed significant associations with favourable OS in twelve cancers, including BLCA (UGT2B15), BRCA (CYP2D6), COAD (NAT1), HNSC (ABCB1), KIRC (ABCG2, CYP3A4, SLC22A2, SLC22A6), KIRP (SLC22A2), LIHC (CYP2C19, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, CYP3A5, SLC22A1), LUAD (SLC15A2), LUSC (UGT1A1), PAAD (ABCB1), SARC (ABCB1), and SKCM (ABCB1, DYPD). Overall, these data provide compelling evidence supporting ADME genes as prognostic biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets. We propose that intratumoral expression of ADME genes may impact cancer patient survival by multiple mechanisms that can include metabolizing/transporting anticancer drugs, activating anticancer drugs, and metabolizing/transporting a variety of endogenous molecules involved in metabolically fuelling cancer cells and/or controlling pro-growth signalling pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3369
Number of pages21
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2020


  • Cancer
  • Drug absorption
  • Drug distribution
  • Drug excretion
  • Drug metabolism
  • Endobiotic metabolism
  • Overall survival
  • Prognostic biomarker
  • Therapeutic target


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