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1.  Autoantibodies as Potential Biomarkers for the Early Detection of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most frequent causes of cancer death worldwide and effective diagnosis is needed. We assessed the diagnostic potential of an autoantibody panel that may benefit early diagnosis.
We analyzed data for patients with ESCC and normal controls in a test cohort and a validation cohort. Autoantibody levels were measured against a panel of six tumor-associated antigens (p53, NY-ESO-1, matrix metalloproteinase-7 (MMP-7), heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70), peroxiredoxin VI (Prx VI), and BMI1 polycomb ring finger oncogene (Bmi-1)) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
We assessed serum autoantibodies in 513 participants: 388 with ESCC and 125 normal controls. The validation cohort comprised 371 participants: 237 with ESCC, and 134 normal controls. Autoantibodies to at least 1 of 6 antigens demonstrated a sensitivity/specificity of 57% (95% confidence interval (CI): 52–62%)/95% (95% CI: 89–98%) and 51% (95% CI: 45–57%)/96% (95% CI: 91–99%) in the test and validation cohorts, respectively. Measurement of the autoantibody panel could differentiate early-stage ESCC patients from normal controls (sensitivity 45% (95% CI: 32–59%) and specificity 95% (95% CI: 89–98%) in the test cohort; 46% (95% CI: 35–58%) and 96% (95% CI: 91–99%) in the validation cohort). In either cohort, no significant differences were seen when patients were subdivided by age, gender, smoking status, size of tumor, site of tumor, depth of tumor invasion, histological grade, lymph node status, TNM stage, or early-stage and late-stage groups.
Measurement of an autoantibody response to multiple tumor-associated antigens in an optimized panel assay, to help discriminate early-stage ESCC patients from normal controls, may aid in early detection of ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3887578  PMID: 24296751
2.  Expression and prognostic relevance of Cyclophilin A and matrix metalloproteinase 9 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Diagnostic Pathology  2013;8:207.
To guide clinicians in selecting treatment options for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) patients, reliable markers predictive of clinical outcome are desirable. This study analyzed the correlation of cyclophilin A (CypA) and matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) in ESCC and their relationships to clinicopathological features and survival.
We immunohistochemically investigated 70 specimens of ESCC tissues using CypA and MMP9 antibodies. Then, the correlations between CypA and MMP9 expression and clinicopathological features and its prognostic relevance were determined.
Significant correlations were only found in high level of CypA and MMP9 expression with tumor differentiation and lymph node status. Significant positive correlations were found between the expression status of CypA and that of MMP9. Overexpression of CypA and metastasis were significantly associated with shorter progression free survival times in univariate analysis. Multivariate analysis confirmed that CypA expression was an independent prognostic factor.
CypA might be correlated with the differentiation, and its elevated expression may be an adverse prognostic indicator for the patients of ESCC. CypA/MMP9 signal pathway may be attributed to the malignant transformation of ESCC, and attention should be paid to a possible target for therapy.
Virtual slides
The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here:
PMCID: PMC3878405  PMID: 24351116
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Cyclophilin A; Matrix metalloproteinase 9
3.  MMP-1 is a (pre-)invasive factor in Barrett-associated esophageal adenocarcinomas and is associated with positive lymph node status 
Esophageal adenocarcinomas (EACs) arise due to gastroesophageal reflux, with Barrett's esophagus (BE) regarded as precancerous lesion. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) might play a role during the multistep carcinogenetic process.
Expression of MMP-1 and -13 was analyzed in esophageal cancer (n = 41 EAC with BE, n = 19 EAC without BE, and n = 10 esophageal squamous-cell carcinomas, ESCC), furthermore in BE without intraepithelial neoplasia (IN) (n = 18), and the cell line OE-33. MMP-1 was co-labelled with Ki-67 (proliferation), Cdx-2 (marker for intestinal metaplasia, BE) and analyzed on mRNA level. MMP-1 staining results were correlated with clinicopatholocical parameters.
On protein level, MMP-1 expression was found in 39 of 41 (95%) EAC with BE, in 19 of 19 (100%) EAC without BE, in 6 of 10 (60%) ESCC, and in 10 of 18 (56%) BE without IN. No expression of MMP-13 was found in these specimens. Quantification showed 48% MMP-1 positive cells in EAC with BE, compared to 35% in adjacent BE (p < 0.05), 44% in EAC without BE, 32% in ESCC, and 4% in BE without IN. Immunofluorescence double staining experiments revealed increased MMP-1 expressing in proliferating cells (MMP-1+/Ki-67+) (r = 0.943 for BE and r = 0.811 for EAC). On mRNA-level, expression of MMP-1 was significantly higher in EAC compared to BE (p = 0.01) and confirmed immunohistochemical staining results. High MMP-1 levels were associated with lymph node metastases but not with poorer survival (p = 0.307).
Our findings suggest that MMP-1 plays a role as preinvasive factor in BE-associated EAC. Expression of MMP-1 in proliferating BE and EAC cells suggest malignant proliferation following the clonal expansion model.
PMCID: PMC2967517  PMID: 20946664
4.  MMP-1/PAR-1 signal transduction axis and its prognostic impact in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
The matrix metalloprotease-1 (MMP-1)/protease-activated receptor-1 (PAR-1) signal transduction axis plays an important role in tumorigenesis. To explore the expression and prognostic value of MMP-1 and PAR-1 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), we evaluated the expression of two proteins in resected specimens from 85 patients with ESCC by immunohistochemistry. Sixty-two (72.9%) and 58 (68.2%) tumors were MMP-1- and PAR-1-positive, respectively, while no significant staining was observed in normal esophageal squamous epithelium. MMP-1 and PAR-1 overexpression was significantly associated with tumor node metastasis (TNM) stage and regional lymph node involvement. Patients with MMP-1- and PAR-1-positive tumors, respectively, had poorer disease-free survival (DFS) than those with negative ESCC (P = 0.002 and 0.003, respectively). Univariate analysis showed a significant relationship between TNM stage [hazard ratio (HR) = 2.836, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.866-4.308], regional lymph node involvement (HR = 2.955, 95%CI = 1.713-5.068), MMP-1 expression (HR = 2.669, 95%CI = 1.229-6.127), and PAR-1 expression (HR = 1.762, 95%CI = 1.156-2.883) and DFS. Multivariate analysis including the above four parameters identified TNM stage (HR = 2.035, 95%CI = 1.167-3.681), MMP-1 expression (HR = 2.109, 95%CI = 1.293-3.279), and PAR-1 expression (HR = 1.967, 95%CI = 1.256-2.881) as independent and significant prognostic factors for DFS. Our data suggest for the first time that MMP-1 and PAR-1 were both overexpressed in ESCC and are novel predictors of poor patient prognosis after curative resection. The MMP-1/PAR-1 signal transduction axis might be a new therapeutic target for future therapies tailored against ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3854135  PMID: 22086466
Matrix metalloprotease-1; Protease-activated receptor-1; Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Prognosis; Immunohistochemistry
5.  Autoantibodies against MMP-7 as a novel diagnostic biomarker in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
AIM: To evaluate the diagnostic values of serum autoantibodies against matrix metalloproteinase-7 (MMP-7) in patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).
METHODS: The MMP-7 cDNA was cloned from ESCC tissues, and MMP-7 was expressed and purified from a prokaryotic system. MMP-7 autoantibodies were then measured in sera from 50 patients with primary ESCC and 58 risk-matched controls, using a reverse capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in which autoantibodies to MMP-7 bound to the purified MMP-7 proteins. In addition, MMP-7 autoantibody levels in sera from 38 gastric cancer patients and from control serum samples were also tested.
RESULTS: The optimum conditions for recombinant MMP-7 protein expression were determined as 0.04 mmol/L Isopropyl-β-D-Thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG) induction at 37°C for four hours. The levels of serum autoantibodies against MMP-7 were significantly higher in patients with ESCC than in the matched-control samples (OD450 = 1.69 ± 0.08 vs OD450 = 1.55 ± 0.10, P < 0.001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was 0.87. The sensitivity and specificity for detection of ESCC were 78.0% and 81.0%, respectively, when the OD450 value was greater than 1.65. Although the levels of autoantibodies against MMP-7 were also significantly higher in patients with gastric cancer compared to control samples (OD450 = 1.62 ± 0.06 vs OD450 = 1.55 ± 0.10, P < 0.001), the diagnostic accuracy was less significant than in ESCC patients. The area of ROC curve was 0.75, whereas the sensitivity and specificity were 60.5% and 71.7%, respectively, when the cut-off value of OD450 was set at 1.60.
CONCLUSION: Serum autoantibody levels of MMP-7 may be a good diagnostic biomarker for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3068276  PMID: 21455340
Matrix metalloproteinase-7; Serum autoantibody; Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Gastric cancer; Biomarker
6.  Detection of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma by Cathepsin B Activity in Nude Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92351.
Background and Objective
Despite great progress in treatment, the prognosis for patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remains poor, highlighting the importance of early detection. Although upper endoscopy can be used for the screening of esophagus, it has limited sensitivity for early stage disease. Thus, development of new diagnosis approach to improve diagnostic capabilities for early detection of ESCC is an important need. The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of using cathepsin B (CB) as a novel imaging target for the detection of human ESCC by near-infrared optical imaging in nude mice.
Initially, we examined specimens from normal human esophageal tissue, intraepithelial neoplasia lesions, tumor in situ, ESCC and two cell lines including one human ESCC cell line (Eca-109) and one normal human esophageal epithelial cell line (HET-1A) for CB expression by immunohistochemistry and western blot, respectively. Next, the ability of a novel CB activatable near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) probe detecting CB activity presented in Eca-109 cells was confirmed by immunocytochemistry. We also performed in vivo imaging of tumor bearing mice injected with the CB probe and ex vivo imaging of resected tumor xenografts and visceral organs using a living imaging system. Finally, the sources of fluorescence signals in tumor tissue and CB expression in visceral organs were identified by histology.
CB was absent in normal human esophageal mucosa, but it was overexpressed in ESCC and its precursor lesions. The novel probe for CB activity specifically detected ESCC xenografts in vivo and in vitro.
CB was highly upregulated in human ESCC and its precursor lesions. The elevated CB expression in ESCC allowed in vivo and in vitro detection of ESCC xenografts in nude mice. Our results support the usefulness of CB activity as a potential imaging target for the detection of human ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3950293  PMID: 24618814
7.  Measuring telomere length for the early detection of precursor lesions of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:578.
Esophageal cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer death worldwide; current early detection screening tests are inadequate. Esophageal balloon cytology successfully retrieves exfoliated and scraped superficial esophageal epithelial cells, but cytologic reading of these cells has poor sensitivity and specificity for detecting esophageal squamous dysplasia (ESD), the precursor lesion of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Measuring telomere length, a marker for chromosomal instability, may improve the utility of balloon cytology for detecting ESD and early ESCC.
We examined balloon cytology specimens from 89 asymptomatic cases of ESD (37 low-grade and 52 high-grade) and 92 age- and sex-matched normal controls from an esophageal cancer early detection screening study. All subjects also underwent endoscopy and biopsy, and ESD was diagnosed histopathologically. DNA was extracted from the balloon cytology cells, and telomere length was measured by quantitative PCR. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was plotted for telomere length as a diagnostic marker for high-grade dysplasia.
Telomere lengths were comparable among the low- and high-grade dysplasia cases and controls, with means of 0.96, 0.96, and 0.92, respectively. The area under the ROC curve was 0.55 for telomere length as a diagnostic marker for high-grade dysplasia. Further adjustment for subject characteristics, including sex, age, smoking, drinking, hypertension, and body mass index did not improve the use of telomere length as a marker for ESD.
Telomere length of esophageal balloon cytology cells was not associated with ESCC precursor lesions. Therefore, telomere length shows little promise as an early detection marker for ESCC in esophageal balloon samples.
PMCID: PMC3882883  PMID: 24308314
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Esophageal squamous dysplasia; Early detection; Screening; Balloon cytology; Telomeres
8.  Correlation among 16 biological factors [p53, p21waf1, MIB-1 (Ki-67), p16INK4A, cyclin D1, E-cadherin, Bcl-2, TNF-α, NF-κB, TGF-β, MMP-7, COX-2, EGFR, HER2/neu, ER, and HIF-1α] and clinical outcomes following curative chemoradiation therapy in 10 patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Oncology Letters  2013;5(3):903-910.
The expression levels of 16 proteins were analyzed to identify prognostic correlations in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) treated with concurrent chemoradiation therapy (CCRT). The immunohistochemical expression levels of p53, p21waf1, molecular immunology borstel-1 (MIB-1, Ki-67), p16INK4A, cyclin D1, E-cadherin, Bcl-2, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, nuclear factor (NF)-κB, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-7, cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), human EGFR type 2 (HER2/neu), estrogen receptor (ER) and hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α were studied in 10 cases of ESCC treated with CCRT. The patients underwent CCRT between 2000 and 2010. The mean patient age was 68.1 years (range, 46-80 years). The numbers of patients in stages I, II, III and IV of the disease were 2, 2, 3 and 3, respectively. Of the tumors, 8 were positive for p53, 6 for p21waf1, 7 for MIB-1 (Ki-67), 7 for p16INK4A, 7 for cyclin D1, 8 for E-cadherin, 3 for Bcl-2, 0 for TNF-α, 5 for NF-κB, 7 for TGF-β, 9 for MMP-7, 7 for COX-2, 5 for EGFR, 1 for HER2/neu, 1 for ER and 7 for HIF-1α. The 2-year overall survival rate of patients expressing high levels of MIB-1 was 71% (±17%) compared with 0% (P=0.019) for those expressing low levels. For NF-κB, the rate was 0% for patients with high levels compared with 100% (P<0.018) for those with low levels. The 2-year local control rates of HER2/neu were 0% in patients expressing high levels and 88% (±12%) in patients expressing low levels (P=0.027). The 2-year disease-free survival rates of HER2/neu and ER were 0% for patients expressing high levels compared with 56% (±17%) for those with low levels (P=0.027). There were no significant correlations between the expression levels of the other proteins and clinical outcomes. In the present study, high levels of MIB-1 and low levels of NF-κB, HER2 and ER were shown to be good prognostic factors following definitive CCRT for ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3576225  PMID: 23426606
esophageal cancer; imunohistochemistry; squamous cell carcinoma; prognostic factors; biological markers
9.  MicroRNA analysis of microdissected normal squamous esophageal epithelium and tumor cells 
Previous studies have identified several dysregulated microRNAs in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC); however, to date there are no ex vivo analyses comparing expression levels of these regulatory molecules in esophageal squamous cell tumors versus patient-matched normal epithelium. We describe here a technical strategy to evaluate microRNAs in normal esophageal basal cells (NB), normal esophageal differentiated cells (ND), and tumor cells (T). Laser capture microdissection was used to procure target populations from five cases and 18 ESCC-associated microRNAs were measured by RT-qPCR. Five microRNAs (miR-25, miR-106b, miR-21, miR-203, and miR-145) demonstrated consistent differential expression in at least one of the three comparisons: T vs. NB, T vs. ND, or NB vs. ND. The potential regulatory role of the microRNAs in ESCC was further evaluated by correlating their expression with a matched mRNA dataset, which included the same five cases and cell populations. In conclusion, the present work demonstrates the feasibility of studying microRNA levels in precisely dissected cell populations from clinical samples, and sheds light on the molecular mechanisms associated with ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3142940  PMID: 21796275
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; laser capture microdissection; microRNA; basal layer; differentiated layer; miR-25; miR-106b; miR-21; miR-203; miR-145
10.  MicroRNA analysis of microdissected normal squamous esophageal epithelium and tumor cells 
Previous studies have identified several dysregulated microRNAs in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC); however, to date there are no ex vivo analyses comparing expression levels of these regulatory molecules in esophageal squamous cell tumors versus patient-matched normal epithelium. We describe here a technical strategy to evaluate microRNAs in normal esophageal basal cells (NB), normal esophageal differentiated cells (ND), and tumor cells (T). Laser capture microdissection was used to procure target populations from five cases and 18 ESCC-associated microRNAs were measured by RT-qPCR. Five microRNAs (miR-25, miR-106b, miR-21, miR-203, and miR-145) demonstrated consistent differential expression in at least one of the three comparisons: T vs. NB, T vs. ND, or NB vs. ND. The potential regulatory role of the microRNAs in ESCC was further evaluated by correlating their expression with a matched mRNA dataset, which included the same five cases and cell populations. In conclusion, the present work demonstrates the feasibility of studying microRNA levels in precisely dissected cell populations from clinical samples, and sheds light on the molecular mechanisms associated with ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3142940  PMID: 21796275
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; laser capture microdissection; microRNA; basal layer; differentiated layer; miR-25; miR-106b; miR-21; miR-203; miR-145
11.  Using Proteomic Approach to Identify Tumor-Associated Proteins as Biomarkers in Human Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
Journal of proteome research  2011;10(6):2863-2872.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most common cancers in China. The lower survival rate of ESCC is attributed to late diagnosis and poor therapeutic efficacy; therefore, the identification of tumor-associated proteins as biomarkers for early diagnosis, and the discovery of novel targets for therapeutic intervention, seems very important for increasing the survival rate of ESCC. To identify tumor-associated proteins as biomarkers in ESCC, we have analyzed ESCC tissues and adjacent normal tissues by two-dimensional electrophoresis (2DE) and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) analysis. The results showed that a total of 104 protein spots with different expression levels were found on 2DE, and 47 proteins were eventually identified by MALDI-TOF MS. Among these identified proteins, 33 proteins including keratin 17 (KRT17), biliverdin reductase B (BLVRB), proteasome activatorsubunit 1 (PSME1), manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), high-mobility group box-1(HMGB1), heat shock protein 70 (HSP70), peroxiredoxin (PRDX1), keratin 13 (KRT13), and so on were overexpressed, and 14 proteins including cystatin B (CSTB), tropomyosin 2 (TPM2), annexin 1 (ANX1), transgelin (TAGLN), keratin 19 (KRT19), stratifin (SFN), and so on were down-expressed in ESCC. Biological functions of these proteins are associated with cell proliferation, cell motility, protein folding, oxidative stress, and signal transduction. In the subsequent study using immunoassay on ESCC serum samples and tissue-array slides, two representative proteins, HSP70 and HMGB1, were selected as examples for the purpose of validation. The results showed that both HSP70 and HMGB1 can induce autoantibody response in ESCC sera and have higher expression in ESCC tissues. Especially, the frequency of antibodies to HSP70 in ESCC sera was significantly higher than that in normal human sera. The preliminary results suggest that some of these identified proteins might contribute to esophageal cell differentiation and carcinogenesis, certain proteins could be used as tumor-associated antigen (TAA) biomarkers in cancer diagnosis, and further studies on these identified proteins should provide more evidence of how these proteins are involved in carcinogenesis of ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3119842  PMID: 21517111
esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC); tumor-associated proteins; biomarkers; proteomic approach; cancer autoantibody; cancer diagnosis
12.  Validation of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma candidate genes from high-throughput transcriptomic studies 
In a recent study, a unique gene expression signature was observed when comparing esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) epithelial cells to normal esophageal epithelial cells using laser capture microdissection (LCM) and cDNA microarray technology. To validate the expression of several intriguing genes from that study (KRT17, cornulin, CD44, and EpCAM), we employed two new technologies, expression microdissection (xMD) for high-throughput microdissection facilitating protein analysis and RNAscope for the evaluation of low abundant transcripts in situ. For protein measurements, xMD technology was utilized to specifically procure sufficient tumor and normal epithelium from frozen human tissue for immunoblot analysis of KRT17 (CK17) and cornulin. A novel in situ hybridization method (RNAscope) was used to determine the transcript level of two relatively low expressed genes, CD44 and EpCAM in both individual formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue sections and in an ESCC tissue microarray (TMA). The results successfully confirmed the initial expression pattern observed for all four genes, potentially implicating them in the pathogenesis of ESCC. Additionally, the study provides important methodological information on the overall process of candidate gene validation.
PMCID: PMC3744019  PMID: 23977449
Expression microdissection; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; RNAscope; immunoblot
13.  Overexpression of Periostin and Lumican in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
Cancers  2010;2(1):133-142.
To identify biomarkers for early detection for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), we previously carried out a genome-wide gene expression profiling study using an oligonucleotide microarray platform. This analysis led to identification of several transcripts that were significantly upregulated in ESCC compared to the adjacent normal epithelium. In the current study, we performed immunohistochemical analyses of protein products for two candidates genes identified from the DNA microarray analysis, periostin (POSTN) and lumican (LUM), using tissue microarrays. Increased expression of both periostin and lumican was observed in 100% of 137 different ESCC samples arrayed on tissue microarrays. Increased expression of periostin and lumican was observed in carcinoma as well as in stromal cell in the large majority of cases. These findings suggest that these candidates can be investigated in the sera of ESCC patients using ELISA or multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) type assays to further explore their utility as biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3827595  PMID: 24281036
stroma; extracellular matrix; DNA microarrays; epithelial-mesenchymal transition
14.  Comparative genomic hybridization analysis of genetic aberrations associated with development of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in Henan, China 
AIM: To characterize cytogenetic alterations in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and its metastasis.
METHODS: A total of 37 cases of primary ESCC and 15 pairs of primary ESCC tumors and their matched metastatic lymph nodes cases were enrolled from Linzhou, the high incidence area for ESCC in Henan, northern China. The comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) was applied to determine the chromosomal aberrations on the DNA extracted from the frozen ESCC and metastatic lymph node samples from these patients.
RESULTS: CGH showed chromosomal aberrations in all the cases. In 37 cases of primary ESCC, chromosomal profile of DNA copy number was characterized by frequently detected gains at 8q (29/37, 78%), 3q (24/37, 65%), 5p (19/37, 51%); and frequently detected losses at 3p (21/37, 57%), 8p and 9q (14/37, 38%). In 15 pairs of primary ESCC tumors and their matched metastatic lymph node cases, the majority of the chromosomal aberrations in both primary tumor and metastatic lymph node lesions were consistent with the primary ESCC cases, but new candidate regions of interest were also detected. The most significant finding is the gains of chromosome 6p with a minimum high-level amplification region at 6p12-6q12 in 7 metastatic lymph nodes but only in 2 corresponding primary tumors (P = 0.05) and 20p with a minimum high-level amplification region at 20p12 in 11 metastatic lymph nodes but only in 5 corresponding primary tumors (P < 0.05). Another interesting finding is the loss of chromosome 10p and 10q in 8 and 7 metastatic lymph nodes but only in 2 corresponding primary tumors (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Using the CGH technique to detect chromosomal aberrations in both the primary tumor and its metastatic lymph nodes of ESCC, gains of 8q, 3q and 5p and loss of 3p, 8p, 9q and 13q were specifically implicated in ESCC in Linzhou population. Gains of 6p and 20p and loss of 10pq may contribute to the lymph node metastasis of ESCC. These findings suggest that the gains and losses of chromosomal regions may contain ESCC-related oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes and provide important theoretic information for identifying and cloning novel ESCC-related oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes.
PMCID: PMC2700406  PMID: 18350619
Comparative genomic hybridization; Genetic alterations; Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Metastatic lymph nodes
15.  Association of p53/p21 expression with cigarette smoking and prognosis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma patients 
AIM: To investigate the expression of p53 and p21 and associations with possible risk factors, such as cigarette smoking, in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in northeastern Iran, a region with a high incidence of ESCC.
METHODS: The expression of p53 and p21 proteins was investigated immunohistochemically in tumor tissue from 80 ESCC patients and in 60 available paraffin-embedded blocks of adjacent normal specimens from the cases, along with normal esophageal tissue from 80 healthy subjects.
RESULTS: Positive expression of p53 protein was detected in 56.2% (45/80) of ESCC cases, and in none of the normal esophageal tissue of the control group (P < 0.001). Furthermore, 73.8% (59/80) of ESCC cases and 43.8% (35/80) of controls had positive expression of p21 protein (P < 0.001). Cigarette smoking was significantly associated with p53 over-expression in ESCC cases (P = 0.010, OR = 3.64; 95% CI: 1.32-10.02). p21 over-expression was associated with poorer clinical outcome among the ESCC patients (P = 0.009).
CONCLUSION: Over-expression of p53 in association with cigarette smoking may play a critical role in ESCC carcinogenesis among this high-risk population of northeastern Iran. Furthermore, p21 over-expression was found to be associated with poor prognosis, specifically in the operable ESCC patients.
PMCID: PMC2957605  PMID: 20954283
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; p53; p21; Immunohistochemistry; Survival; Smoking
16.  None-endoscopic Screening for Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma- A Review 
Esophageal cancer (EC) is the eighth most common cancer and sixth most frequent cause of cancer mortality worldwide. Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is the most common type of EC. ESCC develops by progression from premalignant lesions, which are called esophageal squamous dysplasia (ESD). Prevention is the most effective strategy for controlling this disease. Generally, two methods may be defined for ESCC prevention. The aim of the first preventive method is to prevent the initiation of ESD by avoiding the known risk factors, or primary prevention. Secondary prevention focuses on detection of the disease in its early curable stage, thus preventing its progression into advanced stages. Endoscopy with iodine staining and biopsy is the diagnostic choice for ESD. However it is invasive and expensive, and not accepted by asymptomatic ESD cases. Therefore, it is necessary to find a non-endoscopic screening method. Despite the large number of studies conducted worldwide, no approved method has been developed for ESCC screening. Regarding the multi-factorial nature of ESCC, it is proposed that the use of a combination of various criteria, such as cytological examination, risk factors, genetic alteration, and molecular markers may result in the development of a comprehensive and effective ESCC screening program.
PMCID: PMC4017690  PMID: 24829644
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Screening; Non-endoscopic; Review
The incidence of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is very high in northern China. This cancer has a very poor prognosis, mostly because it is usually diagnosed at a late stage. Detection an earlier stage can dramatically improve prognosis. Microscopic evaluation of esophageal balloon cytology (EBC) specimens has been the most common method for early detection of ESCC, but this technique is limited by low sensitivity and specificity. The use of molecular markers may improve these screening characteristics. This study evaluates whether measurement of gene methylation in EBC specimens may have utility for the detection of esophageal squamous dysplasia and early ESCC. We evaluated the presence of methylation in eight genes shown to be methylated in ESCC in previous studies in EBC specimens from 147 patients with endoscopic biopsy diagnoses ranging from normal mucosa through severe squamous dysplasia. Methylation status was determined using quantitative methylation-specific PCR techniques. The sensitivity and specificity of methylation of each individual gene and combinations of these genes to detect biopsy-proven high-grade (moderate or severe) squamous dysplasia was determined. For individual genes, the sensitivities ranged from 9–34% and the specificities ranged from 77–99%. Using a panel of four genes (AHRR, p16INK4a, MT1G, and CLDN3) resulted in sensitivity and specificity of 50% and 68%, respectively. This study suggests that evaluation of gene methylation in EBC samples may have utility for early detection of esophageal squamous dysplasia and early ESCC, however, identification of more sensitive methylation markers will be required for development of a clinically useful screening test.
PMCID: PMC2615136  PMID: 19137073
gene methylation; early detection; cytology; esophageal squamous cell cancer
18.  Matrix metalloproteinases and their inhibitors in canine mammary tumors 
Malignant canine mammary tumors represent 50% of all neoplasms in female dogs. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) are thought to be involved in tumor progression, and they are also associated with the reactive stroma, which provides structural and vascular support for tumor growth.
MMP-2, MMP-9 and MT1-MMP were expressed at both the mRNA and protein levels in tumor samples. MMP-2 and MMP-9 immunohistochemical reactions were evident both in the epithelial tumor cells and in the stromal compartment to varying degrees; in particular, the intensity of the MMP-2 staining was stronger in the stromal fibroblasts close to epithelial tumor cells in simple carcinomas than in adenomas. These data were supported by gelatin-zymography; bands for the active form of MMP-2 were found in 94% of carcinoma samples, compared with 17% of benign tumor samples. The gene expression and immunohistochemical results for MT1-MMP were comparable to those for MMP-2. The immunoreactivity for MMP-13 and TIMP-2 was lower in carcinomas than in adenomas, confirming the mRNA data for MMP-13 and the other MMP inhibitors that were evaluated. The active form of MMP-9, but not the active form of MMP-2, was identified in the plasma of all of the tested dogs.
Our findings suggest that MMP-9, MMP-2 and MT1-MMP, which are synthesized by epithelial cancer cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts, play an important role in malignant canine mammary tumors. The reduction of MMP-13 and TIMP-2 could also be a significant step in malignant transformation. MMP-2 and MT1-MMP could be further evaluated as future biomarkers for predicting the progression and prognosis of canine mammary tumors.
PMCID: PMC3141405  PMID: 21726449
19.  Clinicopathological and prognostic role of MMP-9 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma: a meta-analysis 
Many studies reported that matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) participated in the development of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and resulted in poor prognosis, however, they all included few patients and had inconsistent results. So we conducted a meta-analysis to explore the correlation between overexpression of MMP-9 and the clinicopathological characteristics and overall survival (OS) of ESCC.
PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, Google Scholar and other databases were searched for relevant studies. The Newcastle-Ottawa quality assessment scale was used to assess the methodological quality of included study and RevMan 5.2 software was used to conduct meta-analysis.
A total of 35 studies were included, and the results of meta-analysis showed that overexpression of MMP-9 was associated with grade of differentiation [well/moderate vs. poor: odds ratio (OR): 0.39, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.29-0.52; P<0.00001], lymph node metastasis (negative vs. positive: OR: 0.24, 95% CI: 0.16-0.34; P<0.00001), TNM stage (T1/T2 vs. T3/T4: OR: 0.28, 95% CI: 0.14-0.54; P=0.0002), the depth of invasion (T1/T2 vs. T3/T4: OR: 0.29, 95% CI: 0.17-0.49; P<0.00001), and vascular invasion of ESCC (negative vs. positive: OR: 0.35, 95% CI: 0.21-0.58; P<0.0001), and also associated with poor overall survival of ESCC (HR: 2.17, 95% CI: 1.32-3.57; P=0.002). Subgroup analysis showed that more than 10% of carcinoma cell staining was associated with significant increase of mortality risk (HR: 2.44, 95% CI: 1.16-5.15; P=0.02), and sensitive analysis suggested that MMP-9 was an independent prognostic factor in ESCC (HR: 1.49, 95% CI: 1.16-1.91; P=0.002).
On the basis of limited evidence, overexpression of MMP-9 may be a potential independent prognosis factor of ESCC patients in Asia, and high-quality studies assessing the prognostic significance of MMP-9 for ESCC patients are still needed.
PMCID: PMC3872548  PMID: 24385690
Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9); esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC); overall survival (OS); meta-analysis
20.  Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma presenting with extensive skin lesions: a case report 
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is the most common histological subtype of cancer in the upper and middle esophagus and is characterized by a high rate of mortality. The incidence of esophageal cancer varies greatly among regions of the world and occurs at a high frequency in Asia and South America.
Case presentation
In our department, a 51-year-old man was diagnosed with ESCC after presenting with extensive disseminated skin nodules. Biopsy of the nodules showed metastatic ESCC. Cutaneous manifestations of esophageal neoplasia are very rare and are mainly described for esophageal adenocarcinoma (EADC). Here we report a very uncommon case of extensive skin metastases of ESCC.
Early biopsies of suspicious skin lesions are important and should be performed in patients with unclear symptoms such as weight loss or dysphagia and especially in patients with a history of cancer, since they can reveal the existence of a distant malignant disease leading to diagnosis and prompt therapy.
PMCID: PMC2365965  PMID: 18426583
21.  Fascin and CK4 as Biomarkers for Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
Anticancer research  2011;31(3):945-952.
Several studies have suggested that fascin, cytokeratin 14 and cytokeratin 4 may have significant roles as biomarkers for the progression and survival of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).
This study performed immunohistochemistry in tissue microarrays, profiling premalignant lesions and invasive tumors.
Fascin increased across the following states as follows: normal epithelium (26%) to dysplasia (46%) to ESCC (68%), while CK4 was undetectable in ESCC (0%) compared to normal epithelium (45%) or dysplasia (41%). CK14 was elevated and invariant in expression. In regression analyses, compared to normal epithelium, higher fascin expression was associated with a 36% increased risk of dysplasia (odds ratio=1.36) and a 56% increased risk of invasive ESCC (odds ratio=1.56).
Expression of fascin is up-regulated in the transformation from normal epithelium, through dysplasia, into invasive carcinoma. Expression of CK4, CK14 and fascin did not correlate with patient survival. Fascin has a potential role as an early detection biomarker and CK4 as a tumor marker in ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3236111  PMID: 21498718
22.  Downregulation of 14-3-3σ Correlates with Multistage Carcinogenesis and Poor Prognosis of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95386.
The asymptomatic nature of early-stage esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) results in late presentation and consequent dismal prognosis This study characterized 14-3-3σ protein expression in the multi-stage development of ESCC and determined its correlation with clinical features and prognosis.
Materials and Methods
Western blot was used to examine 14-3-3σ protein expression in normal esophageal epithelium (NEE), low grade intraepithelial neoplasia (LGIN), high grade intraepithelial neoplasia (HGIN), ESCC of TNM I to IV stage and various esophageal epithelial cell lines with different biological behavior. Immunohistochemistry was used to estimate 14-3-3σ protein in 110 biopsy samples of NEE, LGIN or HGIN and in 168 ESCC samples all of whom had follow-up data. Support vector machine (SVM) was used to develop a classifier for prognosis.
14-3-3σ decreased progressively from NEE to LGIN, to HGIN, and to ESCC. Chemoresistant sub-lines of EC9706/PTX and EC9706/CDDP showed high expression of 14-3-3σ protein compared with non-chemoresistant ESCC cell lines and immortalized NEC. Furthermore, the downregulation of 14-3-3σ correlated significantly with histological grade (P = 0.000) and worse prognosis (P = 0.004). Multivariate Cox regression analysis indicated that 14-3-3σ protein (P = 0.016) and T stage (P = 0.000) were independent prognostic factors for ESCC. The SVM ESCC classifier comprising sex, age, T stage, histological grade, lymph node metastasis, clinical stage and 14-3-3σ, distinguished significantly lower- and higher-risk ESCC patients (91.67% vs. 3.62%, P = 0.000).
Downregulation of 14-3-3σ arises early in the development of ESCC and predicts poor survival, suggesting that 14-3-3σ may be a biomarker for early detection of high-risk subjects and diagnosis of ESCC. Our seven-feature SVM classifier for ESCC prognosis may help to inform clinical decisions and tailor individual therapy.
PMCID: PMC3990633  PMID: 24743601
23.  Over-Expression of CDC25B and LAMC2 mRNA and Protein in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinomas and Pre-Malignant Lesions in Subjects from a High-Risk Population in China 
Molecular events associated with the initiation and progression of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remain poorly understood, but likely hold the key to effective early detection approaches for this almost invariably fatal cancer. CDC25B and LAMC2 are two promising early detection candidates emerging from new molecular studies of ESCC. To further elucidate the role of these two genes in esophageal carcinogenesis, we performed a series of studies to: (i) confirm RNA over-expression; (ii) establish the prevalence of protein over-expression; (iii) relate protein over-expression to survival; and (iv) explore their potential as early detection biomarkers. Results of these studies indicated that CDC25B mRNA was over-expressed (≥2-fold over-expression in tumor compared to normal) in 64% of the 73 ESCC cases evaluated, while LAMC2 mRNA was over-expressed in 89% of cases. CDC25B protein expression was categorized as positive in 59% (144/243) of ESCC cases on a tumor tissue microarray, and non-negative LAMC2 patterns of protein expression were observed in 82% (225/275) of cases. Multivariate-adjusted proportional hazard regression models showed no association between CDC25B protein expression score and risk of death (Hazard Ratio [HR] for each unit increase in expression score = 1.00, P=0.90), however, several of the LAMC2 protein expression patterns strongly predicted survival. Using the cytoplasmic pattern as the reference (the pattern with the lowest mortality), cases with a diffuse pattern had a 254% increased risk of death (HR=3.52, P=0.007), cases with no LAMC2 expression had a 169% increased risk of death (HR=2.69, P=0.009), and cases with a peripheral pattern had a 130% greater risk of death (HR=2.30, P=0.02). CDC25B protein expression scores in subjects with esophageal biopsies diagnosed as normal (n=35), dysplastic (n=23), or ESCC (n=32) increased significantly with morphologic progression. For LAMC2, all normal and dysplastic patients had a continuous pattern of protein expression, while all ESCCs showed alternative, non-continuous patterns. This series of studies showed that both CDC25B and LAMC2 over-express RNA and protein in a significant majority of ESCC cases. The strong relation of LAMC2 pattern of protein expression to survival suggests a role in prognosis, while CDC25B’s association with morphologic progression indicates a potential role as an early detection marker.
PMCID: PMC2729558  PMID: 18559558
esophageal cancer; quantitative RT-PCR; tissue microarray; survival; early detection; CDC25B; LAMC2
24.  Squamous cell carcinoma in Barrett’s esophagus: field effect versus metastasis 
Barrett’s esophagus (BE) is a premalignant condition with an increased risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). Risk factors for EAC overlap with those for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), but ESCC is surprisingly rare in BE. We report two cases of ESCC directly surrounded by BE. Both patients had a previous medical history of cancers, i.e., head and neck squamous cell carcinomas, and were using alcohol and smoking tobacco. Using immunohistochemistry for p63, CK5, CK7, and CDX2, it was confirmed that these carcinomas were pure squamous cell carcinomas, and not EACs or esophageal adenosquamous carcinomas arising from BE. Using TP53 mutation and loss of heterozygosity analysis, we established that the ESCCs in BE were not metastases of the previously diagnosed head and neck squamous cell carcinomas but de novo primary ESCCs. This study shows the strength of molecular analysis as an adjunct to the histopathologic diagnosis for distinguishing between metastases of prior cancers and primary cancers. Furthermore, these cases imply that presence of BE is not protective with regards to developing ESCC in the lower one third of the esophagus. We suggest that their ESCCs arose from islets of squamous epithelium in BE.
PMCID: PMC3568520  PMID: 22221671
adenocarcinoma; Barrett’s esophagus; squamous cell carcinoma
25.  SILAC-based quantitative proteomic approach to identify potential biomarkers from the esophageal squamous cell carcinoma secretome 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2010;10(8):796-810.
The identification of secreted proteins that are differentially expressed between non-neoplastic and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cells can provide potential biomarkers of ESCC. We used a SILAC-based quantitative proteomic approach to compare the secretome of ESCC cells with that of non-neoplastic esophageal squamous epithelial cells. Proteins were resolved by SDS-PAGE and tandem mass spectrometry analysis (LC-MS/MS) of in-gel trypsindigested peptides was carried out on a high-accuracy qTOF mass spectrometer. In total, we identified 441 proteins in the combined secretomes, including 120 proteins with ≥ 2-fold upregulation in the ESCC secretome vs. that of non-neoplastic esophageal squamous epithelial cells. In this study, several potential protein biomarkers previously known to be increased in ESCC including matrix metalloproteinase 1, transferrin receptor and transforming growth factor beta-induced 68 kDa were identified as overexpressed in the ESCC-derived secretome. In addition, we identified several novel proteins that have not been previously reported to be associated with ESCC. Among the novel candidate proteins identified, protein disulfide isomerase family a member 3 (PDIA3), GDP dissociation inhibitor 2 (GDI2) and lectin galactoside binding soluble 3 binding protein (LGALS3BP) were further validated by immunoblot analysis and immunohistochemical labeling using tissue microarrays. This tissue microarray analysis showed overexpression of protein disulfide isomerase family a member 3, GDP dissociation inhibitor 2 and lectin galactoside binding soluble 3 binding protein in 93, 93 and 87% of 137 ESCC cases, respectively. Hence, we conclude that these potential biomarkers are excellent candidates for further evaluation to test their role and efficacy in the early detection of ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3093916  PMID: 20686364
Het-1A; metastasis; tumor differentiation; mass spectrometry; multiple reaction monitoring; prognostication; tumor grade

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