Spatial analysis of NQO1 in non-small cell lung cancer shows its expression is independent of NRF1 and NRF2 in the tumor microenvironment

Boback Kaghazchi*, In Hwa Um, Mustafa Elshani, Oliver James Read, David James Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 1 (NFE2L1, NRF1) and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NFE2L2, NRF2) are distinct oxidative stress response transcription factors, both of which have been shown to perform cytoprotective functions, modulating cell stress response and homeostasis. NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1) is a mutual downstream antioxidant gene target that catalyzes the two-electron reduction of an array of substrates, protecting against reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. NQO1 is upregulated in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and is proposed as a predictive biomarker and therapeutic target. Antioxidant protein expression of immune cells within the NSCLC tumor microenvironment (TME) remains undetermined and may affect immune cell effector functions and survival outcomes. Multiplex immunofluorescence was performed to examine the co-localization of NQO1, NRF1 and NRF2 within the tumor and TME of 162 chemotherapy-naïve, early-stage NSCLC patients treated by primary surgical resection. This study demonstrates that NQO1 protein expression is high in normal, tumor-adjacent tissue and that NQO1 expression varies depending on the cell type. Inter and intra-patient heterogenous NQO1 expression was observed in lung cancer. Co-expression analysis showed NQO1 is independent of NRF1 and NRF2 in tumors. Density-based co-expression analysis demonstrated NRF1 and NRF2 double-positive expression in cancer cells is associated with improved overall survival.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1652
Number of pages16
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2022


  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Tumor microenvironment


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