Background: Microsatellite instability (MSI) occurs in chronically inflamed colorectal tissue and may evolve to colitis-associated cancer. In vitro data suggest that mesalazine (5-ASA) improves MSI.
Aim: To analyse the changes in MSI in 156 distal colonic biopsies of 39 patients with ulcerative colitis that had been treated within a randomized, double-blind trial comparing 5-ASA with E. coli Nissle (EcN).
Methods: Two biopsies had been collected before and after 1 year of treatment. MSI testing was performed using a panel of eight markers, including 3 dinucleotide and 5 mononucleotide repeats.
Results: No MSI was observed with any of the mono-repeats, and among dinucleotide repeats, only D5S346 (maps to APC) and D17S250 (p53) were consistently informative. Overall, 31/156 (20%) biopsies displayed MSI. After 1 year, 3/11 patients displayed MSI improvement [change to microsatellite stability (MSS); 1 on 5-ASA, 2 on EcN] at D5S346 and 4/11 showed MSI worsening (change from MSS to MSI; all 5-ASA). For D17S250, the corresponding data were for 3/9 patients (2 on 5-ASA, 1 on EcN) and 2/9 (both on 5-ASA), respectively.
Conclusions: In the set of biopsies taken from patients treated with 1.5 g 5-ASA for 1 year, there was no improvement in the prevalence of MSI in the distal colon.