Molecular investigation of lymph nodes in colon cancer patients using one-step nucleic acid amplification (OSNA): a new road to better staging?

Cancer. 2012 Dec 15;118(24):6039-45. doi: 10.1002/cncr.27667. Epub 2012 Jun 8.


Background: A new diagnostic system, called one-step nucleic acid amplification (OSNA), has recently been designed to detect cytokeratin 19 mRNA as a surrogate for lymph node metastases. The objective of this prospective investigation was to compare the performance of OSNA with both standard hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) analysis and intensive histopathology in the detection of colon cancer lymph node metastases.

Methods: In total, 313 lymph nodes from 22 consecutive patients with stage I, II, and III colon cancer were assessed. Half of each lymph node was analyzed initially by H&E followed by an intensive histologic workup (5 levels of H&E and immunohistochemistry analyses, the gold standard for the assessment of sensitivity/specificity of OSNA), and the other half was analyzed using OSNA.

Results: OSNA was more sensitive in detecting small lymph node tumor infiltrates compared with H&E (11 results were OSNA positive/H&E negative). Compared with intensive histopathology, OSNA had 94.5% sensitivity, 97.6% specificity, and a concordance rate of 97.1%. OSNA resulted in an upstaging of 2 of 13 patients (15.3%) with lymph node-negative colon cancer after standard H&E examination.

Conclusions: OSNA appeared to be a powerful and promising molecular tool for the detection of lymph node metastases in patients with colon cancer. OSNA had similar performance in the detection of lymph node metastases compared with intensive histopathologic investigations and appeared to be superior to standard histology with H&E. Most important, the authors concluded that OSNA may lead to a potential upstaging of >15% of patients with colon cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratin-19 / genetics*
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Keratin-19
  • RNA, Neoplasm