Aim: To study the function of N-myc downstream-regulated gene 1 (NDRG1) in colorectal carcinogenesis and its correlation with tumor lymph node metastasis.
Methods: NDRG1 was detected at its protein level by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and image analysis (IA), and NDRG1 mRNA was detected by in situ hybridization (ISH) in formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded sections with a total of 190 specimens including 38 normal colorectal mucosae, 31 colorectal adenomas, 45 non-metastatic colorectal carcinomas (CRCs), 38 metastatic primary CRC and subsequently regional lymph nodes respectively. At the same time, the correlations of NDRG1 with sex, age of patients and histological types of colorectal carcinomas were observed.
Results: NDRG1 proteins were gradually increased in colorectal carcinogenesis (P<0.05 or P<0.01). There was a significant difference in the expression of NDRG1 between non-metastatic and metastatic CRCs (P<0.05), and the correlation was positive (P<0.01, r(s)=0.329). However, there was no obvious difference in the expression of NDRG1 between the primary sites of CRCs and that in the metastatic sites of corresponding regional lymph nodes, nor was there an apparent difference in sex, age, and histological types. The expression of NDRG1 mRNA was generally in concordance with that of NDRG1 protein.
Conclusion: NDRG1 gene may play an important role in colorectal carcinogenesis. In addition, NDRG1 may be a putative tumor metastasis promoter gene and is regarded as one of the molecular biological markers that can forecast early metastasis of CRCs. NDRG1 gene in the metastatic sites of regional lymph nodes may preserve its expression characteristics in the primary sites of CRCs to some extent. The expression of NDRG1 is not affected by sex, age and histological types. The role of NDRG1 in tumor metastatic process can be demonstrated by in vivo and in vitro.