Frequent EpCam protein expression in human carcinomas

Hum Pathol. 2004 Jan;35(1):122-8. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2003.08.026.


Expression of the transmembrane glycoprotein EpCam (epithelial cellular adhesion molecule) occurs in normal epithelium of different organs and was described in carcinomas of various sites. Specific anti-EpCam therapies are now being used in clinical trials. Thus, it is of interest to know which tumor types express or overexpress this protein, and in what frequency. We therefore analyzed EpCam expression by immunohistochemistry on a tissue microarray containing 3900 tissue samples of 134 different histological tumor types and subtypes. EpCam expression was detected in 98 of 131 tumor categories. At least a weak EpCam expression in >10% of tumors was observed in 87 of 131 different tumor categories. Adenocarcinomas of the colon (81%) and pancreas (78%), as well as hormone-refractory adenocarcinomas of the prostate (71%), were identified as particularly promising therapy targets with a high fraction of strongly positive tumors. Most soft-tissue tumors and all lymphomas were EpCam negative. It is concluded that anti-EpCam therapies, if proven to be successful, will have broad applications in a wide variety of carcinomas.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein Array Analysis
  • Tissue Embedding / methods


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule