Fibrosis plays an important role in tumor growth and progression, and thus, we aimed to determine whether renal fibrosis is correlated with the clinical and pathological characteristics and prognosis of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). Fibrosis, including intra-tumoral fibrosis (ITF), pseudo-capsule (PC) fibrosis and adjacent normal renal interstitial fibrosis, was evaluated in 73 pairs of ccRCC specimens using second harmonic generation combined with two-photon excitation fluorescence (SHG/TPEF). The clinical and pathological characteristics of the patients who were eligible for the present study were recorded. The associations between fibrosis and clinicopathological parameters were analyzed using a Mann-Whitney U test or logistic regression analysis. Progression-free survival (PFS) was analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method and a Cox regression model. High-resolution images of fibrosis were captured from unstained slides using the SHG/TPEF approach. Both ITF and PC fibrosis were associated with tumor progression in ccRCC. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed a significant inverse association between the PC collagen proportional area (CPA) and PC invasion (p
< 0.05), suggesting that PC CPA is an independent risk factor or marker for PC invasion. A significant decrease in progression-free survival (PFS), determined by Kaplan-Meier curves, was observed for patients with higher PC CPA status compared with those with lower PC CPA status (p
< 0.05). Similar results were observed in patients with PC invasion. In multivariate Cox regression analysis, PC invasion and intra-tumoral necrosis were identified as independent prognostic factors for PFS. Our data suggest that ITF and PC fibrosis are associated with ccRCC progression. In addition, PC fibrosis may act as a marker of PC invasion and an effective quantitative measurement for assessing prognosis.
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