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Semin Cancer Biol. 1993 Oct;4(5):319-24.

Colorectal cancer metastasis determined by carbohydrate-mediated cell adhesion: role of sialyl-LeX antigens.

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Department of Chemical Toxicology and Immunochemistry, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tokyo, Japan.


Human colorectal carcinomas with increased metastatic potential and with poor prognosis are characterized by the high content of sialyl-LeX carbohydrate antigens. The levels of these carbohydrate antigens apparently increase during colorectal carcinoma progression from non-metastatic to metastatic tumors. The levels of tumor-associated sialyl-LeX antigens are inversely correlated to the post surgical survival of colon carcinoma patients as revealed by retrospective studies. Cell lines selected for high levels of cell surface sialyl-LeX antigens metastasize to livers when they are injected intrasplenically into nude mice. The highly expressing cells also strongly adhere to activated endothelial cells apparently through E-selectin. We conclude that sialyl-LeX carbohydrate antigen is a unique molecular phenotype that determines colorectal cancer metastasis.

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