To determine expression and localization of Wnt signaling molecules across the esophageal mucosal thickness.
The molecular mechanisms governing the biology and pathobiology of esophageal squamous mucosa in health and disease are not completely understood. Earlier genome-wide expression study of normal-looking esophageal squamous mucosa has shown differential expression of the Wingless-type MMTV integration site family (Wnt) modulators Dickkopf (Dkk) homologs among healthy individuals and patients with reflux esophagitis and Barrett metaplasia suggesting that the Wnt pathway may be involved in esophageal mucosal biology.
Seven full-thickness human donor esophagi were cryosectioned for immunohistochemical analysis, and lamina propria (LP), basal (BC), intermediate (IC), and superficial (SC) cells were also dissected by laser-capture microdissection for real-time polymerase chain reaction.
Wnt1, 2b, and 3a were expressed primarily in BC, Wnt3, and 5b in LP, and Wnt5a in IC. Frizzled 1, low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 6, secreted frizzled-related protein 1, T-cell–specific transcription factor 3, and dishevelled 3 were expressed highest in LP decreasing precipitously medially toward SC. Dkk1 predominantly expressed in SC was more than 100-folds greater than other layers (P<0.001). Dkk4 was expressed primarily in SC but Dkk3 was opposite with greatest expression in LP. Immunohistochemical analysis showed Wnt1 and 3a in BC, Wnt5a in IC and SC, Dkk1 predominantly in SC, Dkk4 in SC and IC, and Dkk3 and SFRP1 in LP and BC.
Signaling components are expressed in a differential manner within the different layers of esophageal squamous mucosa suggesting their involvement in mucosal cell biology locally.