Cytokeratin subsets for distinguishing Barrett's esophagus from intestinal metaplasia in the cardia using endoscopic biopsy specimens

Am J Gastroenterol. 2001 May;96(5):1378-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2001.03792.x.


Objectives: It has been suggested that Barrett's epithelium and intestinal metaplasia in the gastric cardia have different cyotokeratin (CK) staining patterns and that Barrett's epithelium can be distinguished by CK staining pattern. The aim of this study was to test the utility of CK staining for distinguishing Barrett's esophagus from gastric intestinal metaplasia.

Methods: Topographically mapped gastric biopsy specimens were obtained from patients without Barrett's esophagus, and esophageal biopsies were obtained from patients with long-segment Barrett's esophagus (>3 cm). Serial sections were stained with Genta or El-Zimaity triple stain, and biopsies with intestinal metaplasia were stained with antibodies against CK 4, 13, 7, and 20.

Results: Sections from 33 biopsies with Barrett's esophagus, 23 with intestinal metaplasia of the gastric cardia, 27 with intestinal metaplasia of the gastric body, and 33 with intestinal metaplasia of the antrum were examined. CK 4 and CK 13 stained squamous epithelium only. The proposed "diagnostic" CK Barrett's 7/20 pattern was found in only 39% of long-segment Barrett's compared to 35%, 4%, and 24% in intestinal metaplasia from the gastric cardia, body, and antrum, respectively. The criteria proposed had a sensitivity of 45% and a specificity of 65%.

Conclusions: These results do not support keratin phenotyping as a tool for differentiating intestinal metaplasia originating in the cardia from intestinal metaplasia of Barrett's.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Barrett Esophagus / diagnosis*
  • Barrett Esophagus / metabolism
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology
  • Biopsy
  • Cardia / metabolism*
  • Cardia / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Endoscopy
  • Esophagus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / pathology*
  • Keratins / classification*
  • Keratins / metabolism*
  • Metaplasia
  • Pyloric Antrum / pathology
  • Stomach / pathology


  • Keratins