BackgroundRecently, neoadjuvant chemotherapy with docetaxel\/cisplatin\/5-fluorouracil (NAC-DCF) was identified as a novel strong regimen with a high rate of pathological complete response (pCR) in advanced esophageal cancer in Japan. Predicting pCR will contribute to the therapeutic strategy and the prevention of surgical invasion. However, a predictor of pCR after NAC-DCF has not yet been developed. The aim of this study was to identify a novel predictor of pCR in locally advanced esophageal cancer treated with NAC-DCF.Patients and MethodsA total of 32 patients who received NAC-DCF followed by esophagectomy between June 2013 and March 2016 were enrolled in this study. We divided the patients into the following 2 groups: pCR group (9 cases) and non-pCR group (23 cases), and compared gene expressions between these groups using DNA microarray data and KeyMolnet. Subsequently, a validation study of candidate molecular expression was performed in 7 additional cases.ResultsSeventeen molecules, including transcription factor E2F, T-cell-specific transcription factor, Src (known as \u201cproto-oncogene tyrosine-protein kinase of sarcoma\u201d), interferon regulatory factor 1, thymidylate synthase, cyclin B, cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 4, CDK, caspase-1, vitamin D receptor, histone deacetylase, MAPK\/ERK kinase, bcl-2-associated X protein, runt-related transcription factor 1, PR domain zinc finger protein 1, platelet-derived growth factor receptor, and interleukin 1, were identified as candidate molecules. The molecules were mainly associated with pathways, such as transcriptional regulation by SMAD, RB\/E2F, and STAT. The validation study indicated that 12 of the 17 molecules (71%) matched the trends of molecular expression.ConclusionsA 17-molecule set that predicts pCR after NAC-DCF for locally advanced esophageal cancer was identified.