Background: We previously reported that the alpha-1 chain of type 11 collagen (COL11A1), not normally expressed in the colon, was up-regulated in stromal fibroblasts in most sporadic colorectal carcinomas. Patients with germline mutations in the APC gene show, besides colonic polyposis, symptoms of stromal fibroblast involvement, which could be related to COL11A1 expression. Most colorectal carcinomas are suggested to be a result of an activated Wnt- pathway, most often involving an inactivation of the APC gene or activation of beta-catenin.
Methods: We used normal and polyp tissue samples from one FAP patient and a set of 37 sporadic colorectal carcinomas to find out if the up-regulation of COL11A1 was associated with an active APC/beta-catenin pathway.
Results: In this study we found a statistically significant difference in COL11A1 expression between normal tissue and adenomas from one FAP patient, and all adenomas gave evidence for an active APC/beta-catenin pathway. An active Wnt pathway has been suggested to involve stromal expression of WISP-1. We found a strong correlation between WISP-1 and COL11A1 expression in sporadic carcinomas.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that expression of COL11A1 in colorectal tumors could be associated with the APC/beta-catenin pathway in FAP and sporadic colorectal cancer.