Comparison of microsatellite instability, CpG island methylation phenotype, BRAF and KRAS status in serrated polyps and traditional adenomas indicates separate pathways to distinct colorectal carcinoma end points

Am J Surg Pathol. 2006 Dec;30(12):1491-501. doi: 10.1097/01.pas.0000213313.36306.85.


The aim of this study was to compare BRAF and KRAS, CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP), and microsatellite instability (MSI) status in each of the histologic categories, including end-point carcinomas with residual adenoma, of the serrated polyp neoplasia pathway and the traditional (nonserrated) adenoma-carcinoma sequence. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was extracted from the selected samples and assayed for BRAF, KRAS2 codon12, 13, CIMP using markers hMLH1, MGMT, MINT1, MINT2, p16, and MSI using an assay for BAT25 and BAT26. A BRAF mutation was present in 82% of serrated carcinomas (SCas), 62% of serrated adenomas (SAs), 83% of serrated polyps with abnormal proliferation (SPAPs-syn. sessile serrated adenoma [SSA]), 76% of microvesicular serrated polyps (MVSPs), and was not found in any of the histologic categories of the traditional adenoma-carcinoma sequence. KRAS2 mutations were found in 43% of the goblet cell serrated polyp (GCSP) category, 13% of MVSPs, 7% of SPAPs, and 24% of SAs; in 26% of large traditional adenoma (lTAs) compared with small traditional adenomas (sTAs) (0/30; P<0.005) and in 37.3% of traditional carcinomas (TCa). CIMP-H (>1 marker positive) was significantly more frequent in SPAP, SA, and SCa compared with MVSP (P<0.05); CIMP-H was present in 10% of sTAs but was found more frequently in lTA (44.4%; OR 7.2; P=0.007) and TCa (38.9%; OR 5.8; P=0.007). Higher CIMP levels (4 or more markers positive) were significantly more frequent in advanced categories of the serrated pathway (SAs [31%] and SCas [30%]) compared with lTAs [0%] and TCAs [3.4%] (OR 12.2; P=0.02). MSI-H was identified only in the adenocarcinoma component of SCas (9/11) or in the contiguous SAs (3/7). The findings indicate that a BRAF mutation is a specific marker for a serrated polyp pathway that has its origin in a hyperplastic polyp (MVSP) and a potential end point as MSI carcinoma. CIMP-High (CIMP-H) develops early in this sequence and MSI-H develops late. The data provided a less complete picture of a second serrated pathway, identified by a KRAS2 mutation in SAs, but showed that the progressive stages of both iterations of the serrated neoplasia pathway are separate and distinct from those of the traditional adenoma-carcinoma sequence.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenoma / genetics*
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Aged
  • Colonic Polyps / genetics*
  • Colonic Polyps / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • CpG Islands / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Instability*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Precancerous Conditions / genetics
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Genetic Markers
  • KRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins