Loss of MHC class II expression is associated with a decrease of tumor-infiltrating T cells and an increase of metastatic potential of colorectal cancer: immunohistological and histopathological analyses as compared with normal colonic mucosa and adenomas

Pathol Res Pract. 2000;196(12):807-15. doi: 10.1016/S0344-0338(00)80080-1.


We immunohistologically investigated 76 cases of primary colorectal cancer and 13 cases of adenoma to clarify the relationship of MHC class II expression with the grade of differentiation, the density of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, and the incidence of metastasis to lymph nodes. MHC class II expression was mostly negative in normal colonic epithelium. In contrast, 32 out of 76 cases (42%) of cancer and five out of 13 cases (38%) of adenoma were positive for MHC class II. MHC class II expression was higher in well-differentiated than in poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma. The density of infiltrating lymphocytes was higher in cancer than in the normal mucosa, and higher in MHC class II-positive tissues than in negative lesions. The incidences of lymphatic invasion and cancer metastasis to lymph nodes were definitely higher in MHC class II-negative cancers than in MHC class II-positive cancers. MHC class II was rarely expressed in metastatic cancer cells of lymph nodes. These results indicated that the loss of MHC class II is correlated with the incidence of metastasis to regional lymph nodes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / immunology
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary
  • Adenoma / immunology
  • Adenoma / metabolism*
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Colon / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology*


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II