Most colorectal carcinomas (CRCs) arise from adenomas through an archetypal pathogenic pathway, the adenoma-carcinoma-metastasis sequence. Aberrant expression of beta-catenin, p16, E-cadherin and c-myc appears to have played important roles in the development and/or progression of CRC, but their precise distribution pattern and associations in different pathologic loci along CRC's pathogenic pathway have not been thoroughly examined. In this study, a tissue microarray (TMA) containing 85 advanced CRCs in different Dukes stages was constructed. In each of 85 cases, tissue specimens from normal mucosa and primary carcinomas in different layers of the bowel wall were included in the TMA. Tissue specimens from matched adenoma, lymph node metastases and distant metastases were obtained from 22, 21 and 21 cases, respectively. Expression patterns of beta-catenin, p16, E-cadherin and c-myc were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. The results revealed that nuclear expression of beta-catenin, p16 and c-myc was quantitatively increased from normal mucosa to premalignant adenoma, primary carcinoma and lymph node metastatic carcinoma; the frequency of nuclear overexpression of beta-catenin and p16 in lymph node metastases was significantly higher than that in distant metastases (p < 0.05). These results suggest an association between nuclear overexpression of beta-catenin and/or p16 and CRC lymph node metastasis but not distant metastasis. The results also showed that correlative high nuclear expression of beta-catenin and c-myc was observed in primary carcinomas involving the serosa and lymph node metastases (p < 0.05) but not in other pathologic regions of CRCs, suggesting that the tumor microenvironment in different pathologic loci of colorectal tumorigenesis and progression may influence c-myc responsiveness to beta-catenin/Tcf activation.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.