Increased expression of Slug and Vimentin as novel predictive biomarkers for lymph node metastasis and poor prognosis in colorectal cancer

Carcinogenesis. 2013 Nov;34(11):2548-57. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgt282. Epub 2013 Sep 3.


Slug and Vimentin genes play a critical role in regulating epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) via downregulation of epithelial markers and upregulation of mesenchymal markers. The present study evaluated the clinical significance of Slug and Vimentin expression as potential disease biomarkers in colorectal cancer (CRC). At first, the biological role of Slug in CRC was assessed by RNA interference in CRC cell lines to assess tumor progression, invasion and migration. Next, we analyzed Slug and Vimentin expression in surgical tissue specimens from 181 CRC patients (Cohort 1) by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR and 208 patients (Cohort 2) by immunohistochemistry. Knockdown of Slug using small interfering RNA in CRC cell lines resulted in inhibition of EMT, reduced cell proliferation, invasion and migration in CRC cells. Interestingly, Slug and Vimentin expression in cancer tissues was significantly higher in patients with higher T stage, lymph node involvement, liver metastasis and advanced tumor node metastasis stages. A significant correlation was observed between Slug and Vimentin expression in CRC (messenger RNA: ρ = 0.546, protein: ρ = 0.405), and increased expression of Slug and Vimentin was significantly associated with poor prognosis. Furthermore, increased expression of Slug emerged as an independent prognostic factor and a predictive marker of lymph node metastasis in CRC patients. Our data provide novel evidence for the biological and clinical significance of Slug and Vimentin expression as potential predictive biomarkers for identifying patients with lymph node metastasis or poor prognosis in CRC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Apoptosis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Snail Family Transcription Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Transcription Factors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vimentin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Vimentin / genetics
  • Vimentin / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • SNAI1 protein, human
  • Snail Family Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors
  • Vimentin