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Mod Pathol. 1998 Nov;11(11):1039-45.

Expression of E-cadherin, alpha-catenin, beta-catenin, and gamma-catenin in bronchioloalveolar carcinoma and conventional pulmonary adenocarcinoma: an immunohistochemical study.

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Third Department of Internal Medicine, Teikyo University School of Medicine, Ichihara, Chiba, Japan.


Bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC) has features distinct from those of conventional pulmonary adenocarcinoma (CPA) in terms of its characteristic growth pattern along alveolar walls and intrapulmonary metastasis via the aerogenous route. We speculated, therefore, that BAC might differ from CPA in its capacity for cell-to-cell or cell-to-basement membrane adhesion. E-cadherin (E-CD), one of the most important elements of epithelial integrity molecules, is related to tumor metastasis in various organs. Differences of E-CD and associated catenin expressions between BAC and CPA, however, have not been elucidated. We examined the expression of E-CD and alpha-, beta- and gamma-catenin immunohistochemically in 18 BACs (9 mucinous, 7 nonmucinous, and 2 sclerosing) in comparison with CPAs, all of which were well-differentiated adenocarcinomas. In addition, we analyzed the correlation between the expression of these cell adhesion molecules and the presence of intrapulmonary metastasis, histologic subtypes, and cell proliferation activity. Clinicopathologically, we observed intrapulmonary metastases in 4 of the 18 BACs and none of the CPAs. In 14 of the 18 BACs, more than one-half of the tumor cells expressed E-CD, and the E-CD expression level was significantly higher in the BACs than in the CPAs. In addition, all of the BACs exhibited preserved membranous staining for E-CD, whereas in 5 of the 14 CPAs, the expression pattern was disorganized cytoplasmic staining; the difference was statistically significant. The Ki-67 labeling index was significantly lower in the BACs than in the CPAs. There were no appreciable differences in E-CD expression among the BAC subtypes. E-CD expression was significantly lower in the BACs with intrapulmonary metastasis than in the BACs without intrapulmonary metastasis. These findings indicated to us that BAC was distinct from CPA in terms of proliferation activity and expression of certain adhesion molecules and that E-CD downregulation was associated with a tendency toward intrapulmonary metastasis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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