Expression of epidermal growth factor receptor in normal colorectal mucosa, adenoma, and carcinoma

Virchows Arch A Pathol Anat Histopathol. 1990;416(4):343-9. doi: 10.1007/BF01605295.


Using the monoclonal antibody EGF-R1, the expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) was investigated immunohistochemically in normal colonic mucosa distant from and adjacent to colonic neoplasms, in 25 adenomas and in 144 unselected colorectal carcinomas. EGFR expression was an inconsistent phenomenon in each of these conditions. It was not expressed in 23/44 non-neoplastic mucosa specimens distant from and in 26/44 mucosae adjacent to colon tumours; 15/25 adenomas and 71 (49.3%) of the carcinomas failed to contain detectable amounts of EGFR. In contrast, large amounts of EGFR were found in 4 non-neoplastic mucosae at both locations, in 3 adenomas and in 11 (7.6%) carcinomas. The remaining cases showed complex patterns of EGFR-expression. In comparing mucosae close to and distant from a colonic tumour, only minor differences in EGFR content were observed. The intra-individual comparison of the mode of EGFR expression in non-neoplastic and neoplastic epithelium revealed an overexpression of EGFR in carcinomas in about one third of the 44 cases examined. One third showed no obvious differences, and one third showed lower levels of EGFR expression within the tumour. We conclude that the mode of EGFR expression in normal and neoplastic colon epithelium is variable and reflective of inter-individual constitutive differences rather than of abnormalities in gene regulation. Statistical analysis failed to reveal correlations between the mode of EGFR expression and tumour grade, type or Dukes stage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma / metabolism*
  • Colon / metabolism*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Rectum / metabolism*
  • Reference Values


  • ErbB Receptors