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Endocr Relat Cancer. 2008 Dec;15(4):1013-24. doi: 10.1677/ERC-07-0230. Epub 2008 Jul 16.

Adenomatous polyposis coli alteration in digestive endocrine tumours: correlation with nuclear translocation of beta-catenin and chromosomal instability.

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Section of Pathological Anatomy, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Parma, via Gramsci, 14, I-43100 Parma, Italy.


The role of Wnt pathway in digestive endocrine tumours is debated. The aim of this work is to investigate key players in Wnt pathway by a multimodal approach. Sixty cases (49 well-differentiated and 11 poorly differentiated) were investigated for methylation of adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) and E-cadherin promoters, the loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at APC locus and beta-catenin and E-cadherin expression by immunohistochemistry. Tumours showing altered beta-catenin localization were tested for beta-catenin and APC mutations. APC promoter methylation was restricted to gastroduodenal tumours (21 out of 59, 36%), prevalent in poorly differentiated carcinomas (P=0.042) and correlating with aggressive features (high histology grade, P<0.02; tumour death, P=0.026; high fractional allelic loss, P=0.002, in turn correlating with short survival, P=0.017). LOH at APC locus was found in 14 out of 53 cases (26%, 10 gastroduodenal and 4 colorectal), prevalent in poorly differentiated carcinomas (P=0.002) and correlating with histology grade (P=0.012). beta-catenin abnormal expression was found in 41 out of 54 cases (76%), with nuclear staining correlating with APC alteration (P=0.047) and short survival (P=0.006). APC, but not beta-catenin, gene mutations were found (7 out of 35 tumours), 4 of which in the midgut. E-cadherin promoter methylation was rarely detected (2 out of 52 cases), with cytoplasmic expression in 18 out of 43 cases (42%), not correlating with any clinico-pathological feature. In conclusion, Wnt pathway alterations, as represented by abnormal beta-catenin localization, are common events in digestive endocrine tumours, but only nuclear expression correlates with tumour aggressiveness. Though with different alteration mechanisms according to anatomical site, APC plays a major role in Wnt pathway activation and in determining the high chromosomal instability observed in aggressive endocrine carcinomas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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