Expression of classic cadherins type I in urothelial neoplastic progression

Hum Pathol. 2001 Jan;32(1):18-23. doi: 10.1053/hupa.2001.21140.


Loss or reduced expression of E-cadherin has been shown to be associated with poor survival in patients with bladder cancer. In numerous cases, loss of E-cadherin expression in bladder tumors has been accompanied by continued association of catenins with the membrane, suggestive of the expression of an alternative cadherin member. In this study we examined 75 bladder tumors using immunohistochemistry for the expression of E-, P-cadherin, and alpha-, beta-, and gamma-catenins. As reported previously, loss or reduced E-cadherin expression is a frequent event in late stage bladder cancer, accompanied by less frequent alterations associated with different catenin family members. Analysis of 51 tumors for expression of E-, P-, and N-cadherin showed P-cadherin localized to the basal cell layers of normal urothelium, with retention of expression in the majority of tumors. In low-grade tumors P-cadherin was found localized to an expanded basal cell compartment, contrasting with the more extensive staining observed in late stage tumors. Membranous P-cadherin staining was often found in the absence of E-cadherin staining. N-cadherin is not expressed in normal bladder mucosa, but detection of this cadherin member was recorded in 39% (20/51) of bladder tumors. Unlike P-cadherin, membranous N-cadherin was detected in focal regions within tumors, representing novel expression in urothelial neoplastic progression. Although focal N-cadherin staining was observed in 3 noninvasive lesions, the majority of tumors expressing N-cadherin were invasive (17/20). Coexpression of E-, P-, and N-cadherin was recorded in 5 grade 2 bladder tumors. Expression of P-cadherin is maintained throughout bladder tumorigenesis, accompanied by aberrant expression of N-cadherin. Clearly, neither P- nor N-cadherin act in an invasive-suppressor mode in bladder cancer, but whether they have a primary role to play in urothelial neoplastic progression has yet to be established.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cadherins / biosynthesis*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / pathology*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Desmoplakins
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Trans-Activators*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology*
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin


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