Mucin core polypeptide expression in the progression of neoplasia in Barrett's esophagus

Hum Pathol. 2006 Oct;37(10):1304-15. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2006.03.023. Epub 2006 Jul 20.


We have previously demonstrated a specific pattern of mucin (MUC) core polypeptide expression in Barrett's esophagus (BE) characterized by MUC1 and MUC6 positivity in goblet cells in a proportion of cases. The aim of this study was to determine the pattern of MUC expression associated with the development and progression of dysplasia in BE. Endoscopic mucosal biopsies from 35 patients with BE (10 with no dysplasia, 6 with indefinite for dysplasia, 12 with low-grade dysplasia [LGD], and 7 biopsies with high-grade dysplasia [HGD]) were immunostained (ABC method) with antibodies against MUC1, MUC2, MUC3, MUC5AC, and MUC6. The extent and pattern of staining for each marker was evaluated in intestinalized Barrett's epithelium and in the various grades of dysplasia. For cases with dysplasia, staining was evaluated separately in nondysplastic epithelium adjacent to (<1 cm) and distant from (>2 cm) areas of dysplasia. In nondysplastic BE, MUC1, MUC2, MUC3, MUC5AC, and MUC6 stained 40%, 100%, 100%, 100%, and 90% of cases, respectively, in goblet or nongoblet columnar epithelium. With the progression of dysplasia (from metaplasia to indefinite, LGD and HGD), there was a significant decrease in expression of MUC1, MUC2, and MUC3, and alterations in the staining patterns of MUC5 and MUC6. In fact, MUC1 and MUC3 were entirely absent from all cases of HGD. Interestingly, BE-associated adenocarcinomas showed an MUC phenotype distinct from that of HGD, with expression of MUC1 and MUC3 in 47% and 67% of cases, and expression of MUC1 in a membranous pattern. There was no significant difference in MUC staining in nondysplastic BE between patients with and without dysplasia. Alterations in MUC expression occur in the progression of dysplasia in BE. However, none of these markers helps identify a subgroup of patients at increased risk for neoplasia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Barrett Esophagus / metabolism*
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Precancerous Conditions / metabolism*
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Mucins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Peptides