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Expression of the cell-cell adhesion molecule β-catenin in colorectal carcinomas and their metastases

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Buhmeida A, Elzagheid A, Ålgars A, Collan Y, Syrjänen K, Pyrhönen S. Expression of the cell-cell adhesion molecule β-catenin in colorectal carcinomas and their metastases. APMIS 2008;116:1–9.

To study the dynamic events leading to impaired cell-cell adhesion upon transition to the invasive phenotype of colorectal cancer (CRC), we examined three distinct β-catenin expression patterns (membranous, cytoplasmic, and nuclear) in the paired samples of the primary tumours (P) and their metastatic lesions (M). β-catenin expression was detected by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in 33 pairs of the primary CRC and their metastases. In a pair-wise (P-M) comparison, the membranous index (MI) was significantly different between P and M (p=0.036, Wilcoxon Signed-Ranks test), while cytoplasmic index (CI) and nuclear index (NI) values did not significantly deviate between P and M. MI in primary tumours was inversely related to the patient's age (p=0.04) and tumour grade (p=0.03), while patients with low MI in M had a high rate of metastasis at diagnosis (p=0.06). CI in P was lower in patients with LN involvement (p=0.02) and in advanced tumour stage (p=0.002). Tumours of the ascending colon had the highest CI in their M (p=0.04). Interestingly, high MI of the M lesions was a significant predictor of favourable overall survival (OS) in univariate (Kaplan-Meier) survival analysis (p=0.035). In conclusion, significant aberrations in β-catenin expression probably take place in CRC cells during the development of metastatic phenotype, but a change from membrane expression to cytoplamic and/or nuclear expression is not a prerequisite for metastasis in all cases.

Keywords: primary and metastatic colorectal cancer; β-catenin expression

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Oncology and Radiotherapy, Turku University Hospital 2: Department of Pathology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

Publication date: January 1, 2008


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