A serrated colorectal cancer pathway predominates over the classic WNT pathway in patients with hyperplastic polyposis syndrome

Am J Pathol. 2011 Jun;178(6):2700-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.02.023.


Hyperplastic polyposis syndrome (HPS) is characterized by the presence of multiple colorectal serrated polyps and is associated with an increased colorectal cancer (CRC) risk. The mixture of distinct precursor lesion types and malignancies in HPS provides a unique model to study the canonical pathway and a proposed serrated CRC pathway in humans. To establish which CRC pathways play a role in HPS and to obtain new support for the serrated CRC pathway, we assessed the molecular characteristics of polyps (n = 84) and CRCs (n = 19) in 17 patients with HPS versus control groups of various sporadic polyps (n = 59) and sporadic microsatellite-stable CRCs (n = 16). In HPS and sporadic polyps, APC mutations were exclusively identified in adenomas, whereas BRAF mutations were confined to serrated polyps. Six of 19 HPS CRCs (32%) were identified in a serrated polyp. Mutation analysis performed in the CRC and the serrated component of these lesions showed identical BRAF mutations. One HPS CRC was located in an adenoma, both components harboring an identical APC mutation. Overall, 10 of 19 HPS CRCs (53%) carried a BRAF mutation versus none in control group CRCs (P = 0.001). Six BRAF-mutated HPS CRCs (60%) were microsatellite unstable owing to MLH1 methylation. These findings provide novel supporting evidence for the existence of a predominant serrated CRC pathway in HPS, generating microsatellite-stable and microsatellite-instable CRCs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colonic Polyps / genetics
  • Colonic Polyps / metabolism*
  • Colonic Polyps / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Instability
  • Middle Aged
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Syndrome
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism
  • ras Proteins / genetics


  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • KRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins