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Pathol Int. 1999 Jan;49(1):38-44.

Expression of MUC2, MUC5AC and MUC6 apomucins in carcinoma, dysplasia and non-dysplastic epithelia of the gallbladder.

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Department of Pathology (II), Kanazawa University School of Medicine, Japan.


To date, nine apomucins have been characterized and their expression in malignant and premalignant lesions is under evaluation. The purpose of this study was to characterize immunohistochemically the expression of MUC2 (colonic/ intestinal type), MUC5AC (gastric surface type), and MUC6 (pyloric gland type) apomucins in 55 patients with gallbladder carcinoma (10 with in situ carcinoma, 45 with invasive carcinoma), 20 patients with gallbladder dysplasia, and 15 patients with non-dysplastic gallbladder. MUC2 was expressed mainly in 'goblet type' cells. The frequency was increased in non-dysplastic gallbladder (47%), dysplasia (75%), and in situ carcinoma (100%), and decreased in invasive carcinoma (58%). Carcinoma cells expressing MUC2, which were usually distributed at superficial areas, and well-differentiated carcinoma expressed MUC2 more extensively than moderately and poorly differentiated ones. MUC5AC was frequently expressed in gallbladder irrespective of non-dysplastic epithelia, dysplasia and carcinoma. MUC5AC was expressed also in carcinoma cells at deeply invasive sites. MUC6 was expressed frequently in pseudopyloric gland metaplasia as well as dysplasia and carcinoma. In conclusion, non-dysplastic gallbladder has a similar phenotype to gastric pyloric mucosa. Gallbladder carcinoma exhibits both intestinal and gastric surface phenotypes in the early stage of carcinogenesis, with the gastric surface phenotype dominant in invasive carcinoma.

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