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Gastroenterology. 1997 Jan;112(1):46-54.

Abnormal immunoreactivity of the E-cadherin-catenin complex in gastric carcinoma: relationship with patient survival.

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Digestive Diseases Research Centre, St. Bartholomew's, England.



The E-cadherin-catenin complex plays a critical role in the maintenance of normal tissue architecture. Mutation of any of its components is believed to result in loss of cell-cell adhesion and contribute to neoplasia. The aim of this study was to examine the expression of E-cadherin and alpha-, beta-, and gamma-catenin in gastric carcinoma and dysplasia and determine any relationship with tumor characteristics and survival.


Immunoperoxidase staining of E-cadherin and alpha-, beta-, and gamma-catenin was performed using 89 gastric carcinomas, lymph node metastases, and gastric biopsy specimens from 14 patients with dysplasia and 10 healthy controls.


Membranous staining was observed in control biopsy specimens for all components of the complex. Up to 57% of gastric dysplasia and 90% of tumors stained abnormally for one or more components of the cadherin-catenin complex. Abnormal E-cadherin and gamma-catenin staining occurred more frequently in diffuse than intestinal tumors (P < 0.0005 and < 0.05, respectively). No association with tumor grade or stage was found. A survival advantage was noted in intestinal and diffuse tumors retaining membranous expression of beta-catenin, independent of tumor type, grade, or stage (P < 0.005).


Abnormal expression of the E-cadherin-catenin complex occurs frequently in gastric carcinoma. The close correlation with poor survival suggests that abnormal beta-catenin may be a useful prognostic marker.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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