Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cancers is related to metastasis, recurrence, and poor prognosis. We evaluated whether EMT-related proteins can act as prognostic biomarkers in colorectal cancer (CRC) patients.
We evaluated the expression of E-cadherin, β-catenin, and S100A4 by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in 333 CRC tissues from the tumor center and invasive margin. Tumor budding, cell grade, tumor stage, type of tumor growth, peritumoral lymphocyte infiltration (TLI), and perineural- or lymphovascular invasion were evaluated as pathological parameters. mRNA levels of E-cadherin, N-cadherin, β-catenin, and S100A4 from 68 specimens from the same set were analyzed by real time quantitative RT-PCR.
Loss of E-cadherin, nuclear β-catenin, and gain of S100A4 were higher in the invasive margin than in the tumor center. Loss of E-cadherin was associated with cell grade, macroscopic type, perineural invasion, and tumor budding, β-catenin with microsatellite instability and tumor site, and S100A4 with growth type, macroscopic type, AJCC stage, lymphovascular invasion, and perineural invasion. The aberrant expression of E-cadherin and S100A4 not β-catenin in the invasive margin was a significant and independent risk factor for disease-free and overall-survival by multivariate analysis, along with AJCC stage and perineural invasion. mRNA levels of β-catenin and S100A4 were correlated with the IHC findings at the tumor invasive margin. E-cadherin and N-cadherin showed a weak inverse correlation.
The combination of loss of E-cadherin and gain of S100A4 in the tumor invasive margin can be used to stratify patients with the same AJCC stage into different survival groups.
The virtual slides for this article can be found here: http://www.diagnosticpathology.diagnomx.eu/vs/9398289629244673