Morphology and microsatellite instability in sporadic serrated and non-serrated colorectal cancer

J Pathol. 2005 Nov;207(3):285-94. doi: 10.1002/path.1850.


Colorectal serrated adenocarcinoma originates from serrated adenoma, but definite histological criteria have not yet been established. It presents with frequent DNA microsatellite instability (MSI), but the frequency of low-level (MSI-L) and high-level MSI (MSI-H) and the expression of mismatch-repair (MMR) enzymes in serrated adenocarcinoma are not known. To address these questions, morphological criteria for serrated cancers were established, their validity was tested, and MSI analysis was performed with NIH consensus markers and MMR enzyme immunohistochemistry for hMLH1, hMSH2, and hMSH6 in 35 serrated and 75 non-serrated colorectal carcinomas. Serrated carcinomas frequently showed a serrated, mucinous or trabecular growth pattern; abundant eosinophilic cytoplasm; chromatin condensation; preserved polarity; and the absence of necrosis. With these features, it was possible to distinguish them from non-serrated cancers, with the mean kappa score for five observers being 0.509. MSI analysis was successful in 31 serrated and 73 non-serrated carcinomas. 54.8% of serrated carcinomas were microsatellite-stable (MSS), 29.0% presented with MSI-L, and 16.1% presented with MSI-H, whereas 78.1% of non-serrated carcinomas were MSS, 13.7% were MSI-L, and 8.2% were MSI-H. MSI-L was more common in serrated cancers (p=0.035) and it was associated with patchy immunohistochemical staining (33.3%) of MLH1. MSI-H did not differ between serrated and non-serrated cancers (p=0.14). These results suggest that the biological background of serrated carcinomas differs from sporadic non-serrated colorectal cancer, but is not directly related to MSI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adenoma / genetics
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Base Pair Mismatch / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Colon / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Eosinophils / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • MutL Protein Homolog 1
  • MutL Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Observer Variation
  • Rectum / pathology


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carrier Proteins
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • MLH1 protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • PMS1 protein, human
  • MutL Protein Homolog 1
  • MutL Proteins