Background: In sporadic colorectal adenomas mutations in the adenomatous polyposis gene (APC) are among the first gene aberrations to appear. In familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) the patients already have a germline mutation in the APC gene. To investigate the natural history of duodenal adenomas in FAP patients, we examined germline and somatic mutations of the APC gene and K-ras mutations in these lesions.
Methods: Frozen sections from 54 duodenal polyps from 31 FAP patients were used to histologically verify the presence of adenomatous growth in the mucosa; the rest of each biopsy specimen was processed for DNA extraction. APC exon 15 was investigated with the protein truncation test (PTT), using four overlapping polymerase chain reaction (PCR) fragments, and samples showing an APC mutation were thereafter sequenced. The adenomas were examined for K-ras mutations by use of a combination of the 'enriched PCR method' and temporal temperature gradient electrophoresis.
Results: APC germline mutations in exon 15 were found in 19 of 31 (61%) patients, whereas somatic mutations were localized to 12 of 54 (22%) duodenal adenomas. In seven adenomas both the germline and the somatic mutations were found, whereas five small adenomas showed somatic mutations only. There was no tendency for more mutations to be detected in large and severely dysplastic adenomas compared with small and mildly dysplastic ones. K-ras mutations were found in four (7%) duodenal adenomas.
Conclusions: The low rate of somatic APC and K-ras mutations in duodenal adenomas may indicate another neoplastic pathway than in FAP adenomas of the large bowel, or that a modifier gene is cosegregating with the disease.