Cadherins and integrins in renal cell carcinoma: an immunohistochemical study

Tumori. May-Jun 2001;87(3):173-8.


Aims and background: The aim of this study was to determine the expression of cadherins and integrins in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and their relationship with tumor morphology and TNM status.

Methods: Cadherin and integrin expression was investigated using an indirect immunoperoxidase technique, applying antibodies to E-, N-, P- and VE-cadherin and to alpha1, alpha2, alpha3, alpha4, alpha5, alpha6, and alpha(v) integrin subunits. Correlation of semiquantitatively scored adhesion molecule levels with histopathological parameters (cytology, growth pattern, nuclear grade) and TNM status was performed for 24 RCCs (17 clear cell, 3 granular, 3 spindle cell and 1 chromophobe cell type according to the WHO classification).

Results: E-cadherin and N-cadherin were present in most cases (88% and 67%, respectively) and were usually coexpressed. T3 RCCs displayed higher E-cadherin and N-cadherin levels than T1/T2 tumors regardless of tumor grade, suggesting that impairment of their function might exist without actual loss from tumor cells. P-cadherin was found focally in two RCCs only, while VE-cadherin was present on stromal vessel endothelium in five tumors, showing no differences with regard to cell type, growth pattern, tumor grade or TNM status. All integrins were present in the studied RCCs (ranging from 12% for alpha5 to 79% for alpha3), including those that are normally absent from adult kidney tissue (alpha4 and alpha5). Tumors of higher grade showed increased alpha(v) and decreased alpha6 levels, while RCCs with metastases less often showed diffuse alpha3 presence and never expressed alpha5 integrin.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the level of expression of N-cadherin and some integrins (most notably alpha3, alpha6 and alpha5) is associated with the capacity of RCC for local and distant spread, regardless of tumor grade.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD
  • Cadherins / analysis*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / chemistry*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Integrins / analysis*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Staging


  • Antigens, CD
  • Cadherins
  • Integrins
  • cadherin 5