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Virchows Arch. 1994;424(4):375-81.

Immunohistochemical evaluation of alpha-catenin expression in human gastric cancer.

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Department of Surgery II, Osaka University Medical School, Japan.


E-cadherin (E-cad) plays a major role in the maintenance of cell-cell adhesion in epithelial tissues, and impaired E-cad expression correlates with tumour invasion and metastasis. Alpha-catenin (alpha-cat), an undercoat protein of adherens junctions, binds to the cytoplasmic domain of E-cad and is essential for linking E-cad to actin-based cytoskeleton. We investigated E-cad and alpha-cat expression in 60 human gastric cancers immunohistochemically. The 60 gastric cancers were classified into 18 (30%) in which alpha-cat expression was preserved, and 42 (70%) reduced cases. The reduction of alpha-cat expression was significantly related to dedifferentiation, depth of invasion, infiltrative growth and lymph node metastasis. We also examined the co-expression of alpha-cat and E-cad. Seventeen (28%) tumours preserved both molecules [alpha-cat(+)/E-cad(+)] and 33 (55%) tumours reduced both [alpha-cat(-)/E-cad(-)], whereas 9 (15%) tumours exhibited alpha-cat(-)/E-cad(+). The frequency of lymph node metastasis in alpha-cat(-)/E-cad(+) tumour (67%) was significantly higher than that in alpha-cat(+)/E-cad(+) tumours (24%) and was close to that in alpha-cat(-)/E-cad(-) tumours (82%). The frequency of haematogenous liver metastasis in alpha-cat(-)/E-cad(+) tumours (44%) was significantly higher than that in alpha-cat(+)/E-cad(+) tumours (6%) or alpha-cat(-)/E-cad(-) tumours (9%). Thus, in all E-cad(+) tumours, the frequency of lymph node and liver metastasis was higher in alpha-cat(-) tumours than in alpha-cat(+) tumours. alpha-Cat expression is apparently better at predicting tumour invasion and metastasis than E-cad expression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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