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Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Apr 1;11(7):2606-11.

SMAD4 as a prognostic marker in colorectal cancer.

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Centre d'Investigacions en Bioquimica i Biologia Molecular, Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Spain.


More than 50% of patients with Dukes C colorectal cancer have disease recurrence and die within 5 years after surgical removal of their primary tumor. It is currently not possible to distinguish patients with good and bad prognosis. SMAD4 is an important tumor suppressor gene that mediates transforming growth factor-beta superfamily signaling and is located in chromosome 18q21, a region with frequent genetic losses in these tumors. Allelic imbalance in 18q has been linked to poor prognosis in a subset of colorectal cancer patients. Therefore, we generated a tissue microarray containing triplicate tumor samples from 86 Dukes C patients and used immunohistochemistry to assess the relative expression level of SMAD4 and its value as a prognostic marker. In addition, SMAD4 was screened for mutations and two polymorphic microsatellite markers were used to assess the presence of allelic imbalance in these tumors. Patients with tumors expressing high SMAD4 levels had significantly better overall (P < 0.025) and disease-free (P < 0.013) survival than patients with low levels. This identifies SMAD4 as a prognostic marker for Dukes C colorectal cancer. Although all tumors with absent SMAD4 staining showed allelic imbalance in 18q21, tumors with 18q21 allelic imbalance as a group showed no difference in SMAD4 levels compared with tumors without allelic imbalance, suggesting that additional mechanisms of SMAD4 down-regulation exist. In addition, although SMAD4 mutations were found in five tumors, they were not associated with shorter survival. In conclusion, the level of expression of SMAD4 was found to be a more sensitive marker than 18q21 allelic imbalance and SMAD4 mutations, which were of no prognostic significance for these patients.

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