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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2011 Aug;135(8):1024-31. doi: 10.5858/2009-0617-OAR2.

Expression of insulin-like growth factor II mRNA-binding protein 3 in human esophageal adenocarcinoma and its precursor lesions.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, 77030, USA.



Insulin-like growth factor II mRNA-binding protein 3 (IMP3) is an oncofetal protein highly expressed in fetal tissue and malignant tumors but only rarely within adult benign tissues. The expression of IMP3 in esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) and its precursor lesions including distinctive type Barrett mucosa (BM, intestinal metaplasia) and esophageal columnar dysplasia (ECD) is largely unknown.


To characterize the patterns of IMP3 expression in EAC and its precursor lesions.


Samples from 132 cases of EAC, 28 cases of ECD (16 high-grade dysplasia and 12 low-grade dysplasia cases), 28 cases of BM without dysplasia, and 138 cases of nonneoplastic esophageal mucosa without dysplasia or BM within formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue microarray blocks were examined. Tissues were stained with mouse monoclonal anti-IMP3 antibody. The intensity (1-3+) and percent (0%-100%) of positive cytoplasmic and/or membranous IMP3 staining cells were determined.


Most of EAC cases (93 of 132; 70%) showed cytoplasmic and membranous IMP3 staining. Poorly and moderately differentiated EAC showed statistically significant higher IMP3 expression compared with well-differentiated EAC (P < .001). A subset of ECD cases (7 of 28; 25%) was positive for IMP3, including 3 low-grade dysplasia cases (focal 1+ IMP3 staining) and 4 high-grade dysplasia cases (more diffuse 1-2+ IMP3 staining). No IMP3 staining was observed in any nonneoplastic esophageal mucosa and BM tissues without dysplasia.


This study suggests that IMP3 may play a role in the carcinogenesis of EAC and has diagnostic utility in differentiating neoplastic and nonneoplastic lesions of the esophagus.

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