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Eur J Cancer. 2000 Jun;36(9):1113-9.

Genetic instability in intestinal metaplasia is a frequent event leading to well-differentiated early adenocarcinoma of the stomach.

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Department of Surgery II, Jikei University School of Medicine, 3-25-8 Nishi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku, 105-8461, Tokyo, Japan.


To understand the development of well-differentiated adenocarcinoma in the stomach, we examined genetic instability in 31 patients with stage Ia gastric cancer. Triplets of tissue specimens (normal/metaplasia/tumour) from 33 lesions were examined for microsatellite instability (MSI) and loss of heterozygosity (LOH), using nine microsatellite loci. Frameshift mutations in the transforming growth factor beta receptor type II (TGF-betaRII) (A)(10), Bcl-2-associated X protein (BAX) (G)(8), hMSH3 (A)(8) and hMSH6 (C)(8) genes were also studied. In this study, a high incidence of MSI (MSI-H) was defined as samples containing 30% or more MSI positive loci, and a low incidence of MSI (MSI-L) as samples which had less than 30% MSI. MSI-L was observed in 19 cancerous lesions (58%), and MSI-H in three (9%). Eleven intestinal metaplasia lesions (33%) showed MSI-L, but no metaplasia lesions exhibited MSI-H. Frameshift mutation was observed in only one cancerous lesion (3%) at the (A)(10) tract of TGF-betaRII. In contrast, LOH was observed in 24 cancerous lesions (73%), and in 15 (45%) of intestinal metaplasia lesions. Intriguingly, these alterations tend to be coincident between metaplasia and cancerous lesions in the same sets of specimens, and there was no case that showed alterations in metaplasia, but not in cancerous lesions. These findings suggest that metaplasia and well-differentiated adenocarcinoma in the stomach may have the same molecular backgrounds, and that these two lesions may be chronologically connected.

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