Overexpression of neurone glial-related cell adhesion molecule is an independent predictor of poor prognosis in advanced colorectal cancer

Cancer Sci. 2011 Oct;102(10):1855-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2011.02021.x. Epub 2011 Jul 26.


A downstream target of the Wnt pathway, neurone glial-related cell adhesion molecule (Nr-CAM) has recently been implicated in human cancer development. However, its role in colorectal cancer (CRC) pathobiology and clinical relevance remains unknown. In this study, we examined the clinical significance of Nr-CAM protein expression in a retrospective series of 428 CRCs using immunohistochemistry and tissue microarrays. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to calculate hazard ratios (HR) of mortality according to various clinicopathological features and molecular markers. All CRC samples were immunoreactive for Nr-CAM protein expression, compared to 10 ⁄ 245 (4%) matched normal tissue (P < 0.0001). Of 428 CRC samples, 97 (23%) showed Nr-CAM overexpression, which was significantly associated with nodal (P = 0.012) and distant (P = 0.039) metastasis, but not with extent of local invasion or tumor size. Additionally, Nr-CAM overexpression was associated with vascular invasion (P = 0.0029), p53 expression (P = 0.036), and peritoneal metastasis at diagnosis (P = 0.013). In a multivariate model adjusted for other clinicopathological predictors of survival, Nr-CAM overexpression correlated with a significant increase in disease-specific (HR 1.66; 95% confidence interval 1.11-2.47; P = 0.014) and overall mortality (HR 1.57; 95% confidence interval 1.07-2.30; P = 0.023) in advanced but not early stage disease. Notably, 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy conferred significant survival benefit to patients with tumors negative for Nr-CAM overexpression but not to those with Nr-CAM overexpressed tumors. In conclusion, Nr-CAM protein expression is upregulated in CRC tissues. Nr-CAM overexpression is an independent marker of poor prognosis among advanced CRC patients, and is a possible predictive marker for non-beneficence to 5-fluorouracil- based chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / biosynthesis*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use
  • Genes, ras
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Instability
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neuroglia
  • Prognosis
  • Protein Array Analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway
  • ras Proteins / genetics


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • KRAS protein, human
  • NRCAM protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins
  • Fluorouracil