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Int J Mol Med. 2002 Nov;10(5):589-92.

Evaluation of telomerase in the development and progression of colon cancer.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Transplants and Advanced Technologies in Medicine, University of Pisa, 56100 Pisa, Italy.


Telomerase activity, a cardinal requirement for immortalization, is a crucial step in the development of cancer and has been studied in many kinds of malignant tumours for clinical diagnostic and/or prognostic utilities. Using a PCR-based TRAP assay, we investigated telomerase activity in 8 adenomatous polyps, 9 dysplastic polyps, and in 36 paired cancer-normal mucosa specimens, one liver and one spleen metastasis from patients resected for sporadic colorectal cancer. Telomerase was absent or very low in normal mucosa and in adenomatous polyps. Dysplastic polyps and adenocarcinoma samples showed telomerase activity, with higher levels in cancer tissues compared to dysplastic lesions. A high telomerase activity was shown to be associated with late-staged cancers and metastasis, providing arguments supporting the role of telomerase not only in the development but also in the progression of colorectal carcinoma. Moreover, telomerase evaluation may help to confirm the malignant transformation in polypoid colorectal lesions with different levels of dysplastic alterations.

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