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Oncol Rep. 2016 Sep;36(3):1251-7. doi: 10.3892/or.2016.4932. Epub 2016 Jul 11.

Myofibroblasts of the muscle layer stimulate the malignant potential of colorectal cancer.

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Department of Pathology and Bioscience, Hirosaki University Graduate School of Medicine, Hirosaki 036-8562, Japan.
Department of Surgery, Hirosaki University Graduate School of Medicine, Hirosaki 036-8562, Japan.
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Niigata University, Chuo-ku, Niigata 951-8510, Japan.


Myofibroblasts of colorectal cancer (CRC) have been associated with histopathological factors such as lymph node metastasis, liver metastasis and local recurrence. However, few studies have assessed the association between these malignant potentials and the myofibroblast distribution in CRC. We aimed to evaluate the relationship between clinical factors and myofibroblast distribution around CRC invasive lesions. The study included 121 cases of pT3 CRC that were diagnosed at stage II or III. Myofibroblast density of the following three histological layers was measured: the submucosa (SM), muscularis propria (MP) and subserosa (SS). We analyzed the relationship between the clinicopathological factors and myofibroblast density by studying the histopathological features of the three layers. The myofibroblast density of the MP layer was significantly higher in the groups with high-frequency lymphatic and venous invasion than the groups with low-frequency lymphatic (P<0.001) and venous (P<0.01) invasion, respectively. In the positive lymph node metastasis group, the myofibroblast density at the MP layer was significantly higher than that in the negative lymph node metastasis group (P<0.001). The high myofibroblast density group at the MP layer was significantly associated with poor overall survival (P<0.003). Our study indicated that myofibroblasts are a type of cancer-associated fibroblasts and that the myofibroblast distribution contributes to the malignant potential of CRC. Furthermore, we demonstrated that myofibroblasts present at the MP layer play an important role in the malignant potential and poor prognosis of patients with CRC.

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