Sessile serrated adenoma with early neoplastic progression: a clinicopathologic and molecular study

Am J Surg Pathol. 2011 Feb;35(2):295-304. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e318205df36.


Sessile serrated adenoma (SSA), also referred to as sessile serrated polyp, has been proposed as a precursor lesion to microsatellite unstable carcinoma. However, the mechanism of stepwise progression from SSA to early invasive carcinoma has been unclear. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the histologic characteristics and possible role of p53, β-catenin, BRAF, KRAS, and PIK3CA in the development and progression of SSA. We analyzed 12 cases of SSA with neoplastic progression (SSAN), including 7 cases of intraepithelial high-grade dysplasia (HGD) and 5 cases of submucosal invasive carcinoma, and compared them with 53 SSAs and 66 hyperplastic polyps (HPs) by immunohistochemistry and gene mutation analysis. Histologically, 75% (9 of 12) of SSANs showed tubular or tubulovillous growth patterns rather than serrated ones in the HGD/intramucosal carcinoma component. All 5 SSANs with invasive carcinoma lost their serrated structure and developed increased extracellular mucin in their submucosal carcinoma component, a consistent feature of mucinous adenocarcinoma. Nuclear accumulations of β-catenin and p53 were observed in 50% (6 of 12) and 41.7% (5 of 12) of SSANs, respectively, and were exclusively present in HGD/carcinoma areas. By contrast, neither nuclear β-catenin nor p53 expressions were seen in HPs or SSAs (P<0.0001). BRAF mutations (V600E) were observed in 45.8% (11 of 24) of HPs, 60.9% (14 of 23) of SSAs, and 63.6% (7 of 11) of SSANs, and were equally found in both SSA and carcinoma/HGD areas of the individual SSANs. KRAS exon 1 mutations were uncommon in all 3 groups (4.2%, 4.4%, and 0%, respectively). No mutations of PIK3CA exon 9 or exon 20 were found in any cases that were examined. These findings suggest that BRAF mutations may be associated with the pathogenesis of SSA, but progression to HGD or early invasive carcinoma may be associated with other factors, such as alterations of p53 and β-catenin. In addition, our histologic observations suggest a possible close association between SSAN and mucinous adenocarcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / pathology*
  • Adenoma / genetics
  • Adenoma / metabolism
  • Adenoma / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Colonic Polyps / genetics
  • Colonic Polyps / metabolism
  • Colonic Polyps / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Precancerous Conditions / genetics
  • Precancerous Conditions / metabolism
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult
  • beta Catenin / genetics
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • beta Catenin
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf