Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is believed to contribute to tumour invasion. Vimentin expression by carcinoma cells is a largely recognized marker of EMT. This study aimed at examining vimentin expression in non small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLC) by immunohistochemistry to evaluate potential correlations between vimentin expression and the differentiation status, the TNM stage and the outcome of the patients. 295 NSCLC including 164 squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), 108 adenocarcinomas (AC) and 23 other NSCLC carcinomas have been examined by immunohistochemistry. Vimentin was indeed detected in 145 cases (49.2%). It was principally present in isolated tumour cells and invasive clusters, particularly in cells at the tumour/stroma interface. Vimentin expression was significantly more expressed in large cell neuroendocrine, adeno-squamous and sarcomatoid carcinomas than in SCC and AC and was significantly associated with the differentiation status of carcinomas. The follow-up of 193 patients further demonstrated that an extensive expression of vimentin (>50% of tumour cells) was associated with the occurrence of metastases. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that vimentin expression is a frequent event in NSCLC and that its expression can be associated with a lack of differentiation and the occurrence of metastases.
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