Background: Recent studies have demonstrated that heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) plays a role in carcinogenesis and carcinoma progression. In this study we investigated the expression of HB-EGF in human colonic non-neoplastic and neoplastic tissues.
Materials and methods: We performed immunohistochemistry using a polyclonal antibody against HB-EGF for normal colon hyperplastic polyps, adenomas and adenocarcinomas.
Results: Normal human colon and hyperplastic polyps did not express HB-EGF. In adenomas with moderate or severe dysplasia, HB-EGF was positive in 92% of the cases, whereas only 14.6% of those with mild dysplasia, expressed HB-EGF (p < 0.0001). HB-EGF expression was observed in 75% of carcinoma-in-adenoma cases. In adenocarcinomas, the incidence of HB-EGF expression significantly decreased as compared to adenomas with moderate or severe dysplasia (p < 0.0001) and CIA (p = 0.0005), with only 27.5% of the cases being classified as positive. In adenocarcinomas, HB-EGF expression was inversely linked to carcinoma differentiation (p = 0.0003) and lymph node metastasis (p = 0.0358).
Conclusion: Our results demonstrated the bimodal expression of HB-EGF in colonic neoplasms and suggested that HB-EGF may play a role in colonic carcinogenesis and at an early phase of the progression of colonic adenocarcinoma.