E-cadherin expression on fine-needle aspiration biopsies in primary lung adenocarcinomas is related to tumor differentiation and invasion

Anticancer Res. Jul-Aug 2003;23(4):3367-71.


E-cadherin, a cell surface molecule that mediates cell-cell adhesion in normal epithelium, has been shown in recent studies of tissue biopsy to be related to tumor differentiation and invasiveness. The aim of the study was to explore if preoperative E-cadherin expression on fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) specimens can predict cell differentiation and mediastinal lymph node spread and therefore tailor treatment in patients with primary lung adenocarcinoma. We studied prospectively the relationship between E-cadherin expression on FNABs and the pathological features of 50 cases of primary lung adenocarcinomas, which were diagnosed cytologically and confirmed histologically post-operatively. Expression of E-cadherin was found in 36 (72%) cases. Decreased expression of E-cadherin was correlated with poor grade adenocarcinomas (low grade 33% vs. 100% in high grade, p < 0.005) and lymph node metastasis (positive 43% vs. negative 93%, p < 0.005). No relationship was found between E-cadherin expression and tumor size.

Conclusion: E-cadherin expression of FNAB specimens can be helpful in predicting tumor cell differentiation, invasiveness and defining a subpopulation of patients with primary lung adenocarcinoma with possible poor outcome, which should be taken into consideration in the proper management of the disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Cadherins / biosynthesis*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness


  • Cadherins