Immunoreactive E-cadherin, alpha-catenin, beta-catenin, and gamma-catenin proteins in hepatocellular carcinoma: relationships with tumor grade, clinicopathologic parameters, and patients' survival

Hum Pathol. 2000 May;31(5):558-65. doi: 10.1053/hp.2000.6683.


We evaluated the immunohistochemical expression status of E-cadherin, alpha-catenin, beta-catenin, and gamma-catenin, and the relationship with tumor grade, clinicopathologic parameters, and patients' survival, in 107 surgically resected hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), using a semiquantitative scoring system. These molecules were largely located at the cell membrane of HCC cells. Compared with expression in nontumorous liver, E-cadherin showed underexpression, whereas alpha-, beta-, and gamma-catenins showed overexpression in most HCC. E-cadherin expression significantly correlated inversely with HCC histological grade, being the highest in well-differentiated HCC. In contrast, alpha-, beta-, and gamma-catenins' expression significantly correlated positively with HCC grade, being the highest in poorly differentiated HCC. Significant positive correlations were found between gamma-catenin high expression and capsular invasion or presence of satellite nodules, and between beta-catenin high expression and vascular invasion. Kaplan-Meier examination of patients' survival indicated that HCC patients with underexpression of E-cadherin, alpha-catenin, and gamma-catenin, and patients with overexpression of beta-catenin, had poor survival rates. These results suggest that E-cadherin is downregulated while the 3 catenins are upregulated in HCC, that E-cadherin expression inversely correlates with HCC grade while the 3 catenins' expression positively correlates with HCC grade, and that HCC patients with downregulation of E-cadherin, alpha-catenin, and gamma-catenin and HCC patients with upregulation of beta-catenin have poor prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadherins / analysis*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / analysis*
  • Desmoplakins
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Liver Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Survival Analysis
  • Trans-Activators*
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin
  • gamma Catenin


  • CTNNA1 protein, human
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Desmoplakins
  • JUP protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin
  • gamma Catenin