Deficient DNA mismatch repair is common in Lynch syndrome-associated colorectal adenomas

J Mol Diagn. 2009 May;11(3):238-47. doi: 10.2353/jmoldx.2009.080142. Epub 2009 Mar 26.


Lynch syndrome is caused by germline mutations in DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes. Both microsatellite instability (MSI) testing and immunohistochemical analyses (IHC) of colon cancers are valuable diagnostic strategies for Lynch syndrome. We sought to determine whether these markers of MMR deficiency were also detectable in pre-cancerous colorectal adenomas. Fifteen subjects with a germline MMR gene mutation who had 44 adenomas removed during surveillance colonoscopy were identified. MSI testing and IHC for MLH1, MSH2, and MSH6 were performed. MSI was detected in 23 adenomas. There was a significant association between MSI and high-grade dysplasia (P = 0.006) and distal location (P = 0.0008). Loss of MMR protein by IHC was detected in 31 adenomas. A significant association was observed between loss of staining by IHC and high-grade dysplasia (P = 0.04). Among the 40 adenomas in which both MSI tests and IHC were performed, the presence of a germline mutation correlated with an abnormal MSI result in 58% of cases, an abnormal IHC result in 70% of cases, and either an abnormal MSI or IHC result in 73% of cases. The combination of MSI and IHC testing in colorectal adenomas is a sensitive screen for the detection of Lynch syndrome and may be particularly useful when Lynch syndrome is suspected and adenomatous polyps are the only tissues available for analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenomatous Polyps / complications*
  • Adenomatous Polyps / genetics
  • Adenomatous Polyps / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / complications*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / pathology
  • DNA Mismatch Repair*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Instability
  • Middle Aged