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Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Feb 1;10(3):972-80.

Microsatellite instability, immunohistochemistry, and additional PMS2 staining in suspected hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Leiden University Medical Center, Albinusdreef 2, 2300 RC Leiden, the Netherlands.



Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and microsatellite instability (MSI) analysis can be used to identify patients with a possible DNA mismatch repair defect [hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal carcinoma (HNPCC)]. The Bethesda criteria have been proposed to select families for determination of MSI. The aims of this study were to assess the yield of MSI analysis in families suspected for HNPCC, to compare the results of immunohistochemical staining and MSI analysis, and to assess the additional value of PMS2 staining.


Clinical data and tumors were collected from 725 individuals from 631 families with suspected HNPCC. MSI analysis was performed using eight markers including the 5 National Cancer Institute markers. Four immunohistochemical staining antibodies were used (MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2).


A MSI-H (tumors with instability for >30% of the markers) phenotype in colorectal cancers (CRCs) was observed in 21-49% of families that met the various Bethesda criteria. In families with three cases of CRC diagnosed at age > 50 years, families with a solitary case of CRC diagnosed between ages 45 and 50 years, and families with one CRC case and a first-degree relative with a HNPCC-related cancer, one diagnosed between ages 45 and 50 years (all Bethesda-negative families), the yield of MSI-H was 10-26%. Immunohistochemical staining confirmed the MSI results in 93% of the cases. With IHC, adding PMS2 staining led to the identification of an additional 23% of subjects with an hMLH1 germ-line mutation (35 carriers were tested).


The Bethesda guidelines for MSI analysis should include families with three or more cases of CRC diagnosed at age > 50 years. The age at diagnosis of CRC in the original guidelines should be raised to 50 years. Routine IHC diagnostics for HNPCC should include PMS2 staining.

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