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Br J Cancer. 1993 Sep;68(3):507-14.

Loss of cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion molecules in colorectal cancer.

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Department of Surgery, Rayne Institute, University College London, UK.


Adhesion molecules are thought to play a vital role in the induction and maintenance of tissue differentiation and their loss or down-regulation has been implicated in the neoplastic process. Recent studies have shown that the morphoregulatory activities are a consequence of interactive processes between several cell adhesion molecules rather than the function of a single molecule. Therefore, we have investigated a panel of adhesion molecules including members of the integrin, cadherin and immunoglobin superfamily in colorectal cancer. Twenty-eight consecutive colorectal adenocarcinomas were stained using an avidin-biotin indirect immunoperoxidase technique. Our results showed a consistent loss of the alpha 2 and beta 1 integrin subunits (21/28 = 75% and 22/28 = 78.6% respectively) and a decrease in expression of E-cadherin in 5/5 poorly differentiated adenocarcinomas. Carcinoembryonic antigen expression was preserved but with basolateral accentuation seen in tumours. There was no statistical correlation with Dukes' stage. These results provide further evidence that in colorectal cancer there is a widespread deregulated expression of cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion molecules. Changes in the expression and function of adhesion molecules which regulate growth and differentiation may play a role in the behaviour of colorectal cancer.

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