Telomere shortening and the clinicopathologic characteristics of human colorectal carcinomas

Cancer. 1999 Oct 15;86(8):1431-6.


Background: It has been reported that shortening of telomeres and strong activation of telomerase occur frequently in colorectal carcinomas. In the current study, the authors examined the correlations between the telomere length of colorectal carcinomas and their clinicopathologic characteristics as well as the activity of telomerase to clarify whether telomere length might represent the biologic behavior of tumors and the mode of tumor development.

Methods: Telomere length was examined by Southern blot analysis in 61 invasive colorectal carcinomas and corresponding normal mucosas. Telomerase activity was assayed by the telomeric repeat amplification protocol with minor modifications.

Results: Shortening of the telomere was detected in 38 (62.3%) and elongation in 3 (4. 9%) of the 61 carcinomas. The telomere shortening occurred more frequently in nonulcerating polypoid carcinomas than in ulcerating carcinomas (P = 0.0373) and also occurred more frequently in ascending colon carcinomas than in sigmoid colon or rectal carcinomas (P = 0.0259 and P = 0.0407, respectively). However, no significant correlation was found between the activity of telomerase and the length of telomere.

Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that telomere length may represent the biologic behavior of individual tumors and possibly the mode of development of colorectal carcinomas.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Telomerase / metabolism
  • Telomere / genetics*


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Telomerase