Background: Ulcerative colitis patients are at increased risk for developing colorectal carcinomas. Despite expensive surveillance programmes, clinical practice reflects an uncertainty in individual risk assessment. The aim of the study was to evaluate independent cellular features with possible predictive value.
Methods: Two patient groups were selected: group A comprised 8 patients with ulcerative colitis-associated colorectal carcinomas, group B comprised 16 ulcerative colitis patients with risk factors (duration of disease, extent of inflammation, epithelial dysplasias). A total of 683 paraffin-embedded mucosal biopsies were retrospectively evaluated for inflammatory activity, grade of dysplasia, ploidy status, laminin-5 gamma2 chain and cyclin A expression.
Results: Mild or moderate inflammatory activity was present in 78% of all biopsies, low- or high-grade dysplasia in 5.5%. There was no difference in inflammatory activity and dysplasia between patient groups. In group A, 75% of the biopsies exhibited aneuploid DNA distribution patterns. Group B showed mainly proliferative-diploid cell populations (85% / P = 0.006). Laminin-5 gamma2 chain was expressed in 13% of all biopsies, with a higher frequency in group A (P = 0.002). Cyclin A expression was found in 98% of all biopsies, with a higher number of immunopositive cells in group A biopsies (P = 0.014).
Conclusions: Combined nuclear DNA assessment, laminin-5 gamma2 chain and cyclin A expression may help to identify ulcerative colitis patients with an increased risk for cancer development.