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Br J Cancer. 2008 Oct 21;99(8):1285-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604664. Epub 2008 Sep 9.

CD133 expression is an independent prognostic marker for low survival in colorectal cancer.

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Pathologisches Institut der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Thalkirchner Str. 36, 80337 München, Germany.


Colon cancer cells have previously been demonstrated to contain a subpopulation of CD133+ tumour cells that have the ability to initiate tumour growth and are thus referred to as colon cancer-initiating cells or colon cancer stem cells (CSCs). As CD133 is currently one of the best markers to characterise colon CSCs, we analysed CD133+ tumour cells in colorectal cancer specimens using immunohistochemistry. We show that CD133 detection is specific and that the CD133 antigen is localised on the glandular-luminal surface of colon cancer cells, whereas undifferentiated tumour cells at the front of invasion are CD133-. In addition, CD133+ cells are characterised in situ by lack of CK20 expression, whereas they are positive for EpCAM. Moreover, we show that CD133 expression in colorectal cancer is an independent prognostic marker that correlates with low survival in a stratified patient collective. Our results indicate that in colorectal cancer, the CD133+ tumour cells can be detected by immunohistochemistry, which facilitates their further characterisation in situ.

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