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Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Sep 15;11(18):6472-8.

Expression of trefoil factor family members correlates with patient prognosis and neoangiogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Digestive and General Surgery, Shimane University, Japan.



Trefoil factor family (TFF) peptides are thought to contribute to epithelial protection and restitution by virtue of their protease-resistant nature and their strong affinity for mucins. However, they are often overexpressed in tumors, where they seem to be negative prognostic factors, possibly contributing to tumor spread, although the precise mechanisms have not been defined.


Tissue sections from 111 patients with curatively resected advanced gastric carcinoma were immunohistochemically stained for TFF2, ITF (TFF3), and CD34. Microvessel density was expressed as number and area of microvessels. Results were correlated with clinicopathological characteristics and patient survival.


Forty-nine (44.1%) and 41 (36.9%) tumors were immunohistochemically positive for TFF3 and TFF2, respectively. Among the various clinicopathologic variables, overexpression of TFF3 had a significant correlation with patient age only. In addition, a significantly higher prevalence of positive TFF2 staining was detected in large, diffuse tumors and in tumors with lymph node metastasis. The number of microvessels had a significant correlation with both TFF3 and TFF2 staining, whereas the area of microvessels had a significant correlation only with TFF3 staining. Both TFF3 and TFF2 were independent predictors of a worse disease-free survival. TFF3 had a gender-specific negative survival advantage, with a 91.3% disease-free survival in female patients with TFF3-negative advanced gastric carcinoma.


Induction of increased tumor vascularity might be one of the mechanisms by which TFFs confer metastatic phenotype and frequent disease recurrence in gastric carcinomas. Female patients with TFF3-negative advanced gastric carcinoma have comparable survival as that reported for patients with early gastric carcinoma.

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