Aberrant crypt foci and beta-catenin accumulated crypts; significance and roles for colorectal carcinogenesis

Mutat Res. 2004 May;566(3):191-208. doi: 10.1016/j.mrrev.2003.08.002.


Preneoplastic or precancerous lesions in the large bowel have been characterized in terms of morphology and histochemical phenotype. However, the detailed histogenesis and relation of particular lesions to malignancies has not yet to be unequivocally clarified. Aberrant crypt foci (ACF), identified in whole-mount preparations of colonic mucosa in rodents and also recognized in human colon, are now frequently used as effective surrogate biomarkers for experimentally detection of chemopreventive agents against colorectal cancers, but the preneoplastic or precancerous nature of ACF in rodents and humans still remains inconclusive. Relatively recently, early appearing beta-catenin accumulated crypts (BCAC) have been described in en face preparations of colonic mucosa in rodents which differ from ACF in many features. BCAC are suggested to be premalignant rather than preneoplastic. The pathological significance of both lesions, including their advantages and disadvantages as surrogate end points for large bowel neoplasms, and roles in colorectal carcinogenesis are discussed here.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Chemoprevention
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / analysis*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Precancerous Conditions / metabolism
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology*
  • Precancerous Conditions / prevention & control
  • Trans-Activators / analysis*
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • beta Catenin


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • beta Catenin