Large-scale molecular and tissue microarray analysis of mesothelin expression in common human carcinomas

Hum Pathol. 2003 Jun;34(6):605-9. doi: 10.1016/s0046-8177(03)00177-1.


The 40-kilodalton processed glycoprotein, mesothelin, is highly expressed in epithelial mesotheliomas and adenocarcinomas of the ovary (serous papillary) and pancreas, but its expression in a large series of other common carcinomas has not been completely explored. In the present study, we used oligonucleotide and tissue microarrays to profile the expression of the mesothelin gene (MSLN) and encoded protein, respectively. Among 150 carcinomas of multiple anatomic sites, we found the highest average expression of MSLN in serous carcinomas of the ovary and adenocarcinomas of the pancreas, consistent with previous reports, as well as measurable but less-striking expression in pulmonary, gastric/esophageal, and colorectal adenocarcinomas. On tissue microarrays containing 621 carcinomas derived from the same and additional sites as those profiled by gene expression, mesothelin immunoreactivity was highest in cancers of the ovary (serous papillary, endometrioid, and undifferentiated) and pancreas, with less frequent staining seen in adenocarcinomas of the endometrium, lung, and stomach/esophagus. Some immunopositivity was observed in 42% of pulmonary adenocarcinomas, including 18% that had >50% of tumor cells that were immunoreactive. Some 14% of breast and 30% of colorectal adenocarcinomas showed immunopositivity, but no case contained >50% tumor cells that were immunoreactive. Mesothelin was either entirely absent or present in <5% of carcinomas of the prostate, bladder/ureter, liver, kidney, and thyroid. Overall, we observed good concordance between the results obtained by oligonucleotide and tissue microarrays. This large study of the MSLN gene and protein expression in common carcinomas provides data for future investigations that evaluate the utility of mesothelin/megakaryocyte potentiating factor as a potential serum tumor marker or target of immunotoxin-based therapy in human cancers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Carcinoma / chemistry
  • Carcinoma / genetics*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / analysis
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • mesothelin