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Pathobiology. 2012;79(3):154-61. doi: 10.1159/000335694. Epub 2012 Jan 28.

Cytokeratin expression profiling in gastric carcinoma: clinicopathologic significance and comparison with tumor-associated molecules.

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Department of Molecular Pathology, Hiroshima University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Hiroshima, Japan.



The expressions of cytokeratin (CK) 7 and 20 have been studied in various primary and metastatic carcinomas, and their determination may help distinguish the site of origin of metastatic carcinomas. However, little is known about the molecular basis that determines variations in CK patterns in gastric cancers (GCs). The aim of the present study was to analyze the CK expression patterns in a large number of GCs and to investigate how the CK patterns correlate with clinicopathologic parameters, histology, mucin phenotype or several tumor-related molecules.


We immunohistochemically examined the CK7/CK20 patterns, mucin expression profiles (MUC5AC, MUC6, MUC2 and CD10), and the cancer-related molecules (CDX2, p53, EGFR and β-catenin), using a tissue microarray with 870 GCs. The GCs were divided into four patterns; 17% of CK7+/CK20+, 57% of CK7+/CK20-, 9% of CK7-/CK20+ and 17% of CK7-/CK20. GCs with the CK7-/CK20- pattern demonstrated a close relation to undifferentiated adenocarcinoma. CK7 expression was significantly correlated with the expression of MUC5AC and MUC6, while CK20 expression was correlated with MUC2 and CDX2. There were statistically significant associations between CK expression patterns and mucin phenotypes.


These results indicate that the CK7/CK20 expression patterns in GCs demonstrated different clinicopathologic features and molecular signatures.

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