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Am J Surg Pathol. 1996;20 Suppl 1:S8-22.

Intestinal and diffuse gastric cancers arise in a different background of Helicobacter pylori gastritis through different gene involvement.

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Department of Human Pathology and Genetics, University of Pavia, Italy.


Investigation of extensively sampled nontumor gastric mucosa from 205 early gastric cancers showed Helicobacter pylori colonization in 85% of cases, including 100% of diffuse and 78% (83% in 97 cases with Swiss rolls) of glandular or mixed cancers. Intestinal metaplasia, including its type III variant, was prominent in the mucosa associated with glandular and mixed (but not diffuse) early cancers. Both glandular (usually called "intestinal") and diffuse-type cancers showed admixtures of intestinal and gastric tumor cell phenotypes. Both p53 gene mutations and p53 protein immunostaining were essentially restricted to glandular or mixed cancers and associated dysplastic lesions. Their appearance in the advanced stage of diffuse cancer was partly due to a change of the histologic pattern from glandular to diffuse during progression of some tumors. Loss of laminin, beta I integrin, or zonula adherens junctions was a common finding in both early and advanced diffuse cancer. It is concluded that two main pathways operate in gastric carcinogenesis, both starting from H. pylori gastritis and both leading to phenotypically variable, often mixed gastric/intestinal tumor growth. However, only one of the two pathways involves intestinal metaplasia, its type III variant, p53 gene alteration, and dysplasia to end in glandular cancer. In the other pathway, diffuse cancer apparently arises directly from hyperplastic, sometimes atypical necks of mostly nonmetaplastic gastric glands, through primary involvement of genes affecting cell-cell and cell-matrix junctional proteins.

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