Background: The aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 family member A1 (ALDH1A1) is one of the promising markers for identifying cancer stem cells in many cancer types, along with other markers including CD44. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the expression and clinical significance of putative cancer stem cell markers, CD44 and ALDH1A1, in a series of urothelial carcinomas of urinary bladder (UCUB) by tissue microarray (TMA).
Materials and methods: A total of 159 Urothelial Carcinomas (UC) including 96 (60%) low grade and 63 (40%) high grade carcinomas were immunohistochemically examined for the expression of CD44 and ALDH1A1. Correlations of the relative expression of these markers with clinicopathological parameters were also assessed.
Results: High level expression of ALDH1A1 was found in 16% (25/159) of bladder UC which was significantly correlated with increased tumor size (p value=0.002), high grade (p value<0.001), pathologic stage (T1, p value=0.007 and T2, p value<0.001) and increased rate of recurrence (p value=0.013). A high level of CD44 expression was found in 43% (68/159) of cases, being positively correlated with histologic grade (p value=0.032) and recurrence (p value=0.039).
Conclusions: Taken together, our results showed that ALDH1 was concurrently expressed in a fraction of CD44+ tumors and its expression correlated with poor prognosis in UCs. ALDH1A1 could be an ideal marker for targeted therapy of UCs in combination with conventional therapies, particularly in patients with high grade carcinomas. These findings indicate that cells expressing ALDH1A1 along with CD44 can be a potential therapeutic target in bladder carcinomas.