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Histopathology. 2011 Aug;59(2):207-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2011.03915.x.

Low expression of Granzyme B in colorectal cancer is associated with signs of early metastastic invasion.

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School of Surgery, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Australia.



Tumour-infiltrating forkhead box P3 (FoxP3+ ) regulatory T cells (T(regs) ) have stronger prognostic significance than cytotoxic CD8+ T cells in colorectal cancer (CRC). Because there is evidence that some tumour-infiltrating CD8+ T cells may be inactive, the present study aimed to investigate the prognostic significance of Granzyme B, one of the major effector molecules of T cells.


A tissue microarray containing 963 CRCs was stained immunohistochemically for Granzyme B and the level of expression quantified by digital image analysis. Granzyme B expression was higher in tumours with microsatellite instability (P < 0.0001), a dense lymphocytic infiltrate (P < 0.0001) and location in the proximal colon (P = 0.009), but lower in tumours with vascular invasion (P = 0.007), perineural invasion (P =0.041) and positive nodal status (P < 0.001). Elevated expression of Granzyme B was associated with improved survival on univariate analysis (hazard ratio = 0.65; 95% confidence interval 0.51-0.84; P = 0.001), but not in a multivariate model that included stage, vascular invasion and FoxP3+ T(reg) cell density.


Low expression of Granzyme B was associated with early signs of metastasis in CRC. The stronger prognostic significance of FoxP3+ T(regs) is in keeping with animal models that suggest these cells act as gatekeepers for the release of Granzyme B from CD8+ T cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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