Background: Tight junction proteins in the cell organize paracellular permeability and they play a critical role in apical cell-to-cell adhesion and epithelial polarity. Claudins are major integral membrane proteins of tight junctions, especially Claudin 1, 4, and 7, which are known as the impermeability Claudins. In this study, we investigated the importance of loss of Claudin 1, 4, and 7 expression, and their relation to tumor progression in colorectal cancer patients.
Material/methods: Loss of Claudin 1, 4, and 7 expression was examined by immunohistochemical method in 70 patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Cases with loss of Claudin expression in <1/3 of tumor cells were classified as mild loss, whereas cases with loss of Claudin expression ³1/3 of tumor cells were classified as moderate-to-marked loss in order to evaluate the relation between loss of Claudin 1, 4, and 7 expression and clinicopathologic data.
Results: The severe suppression of Claudin 1, 4, and 7 expression was found to be significantly related to the depth of tumor invasion, positive regional lymph nodes, histological grade, lymphovascular invasion, perineural invasion, and lymphocytic response. Additionally, severity of loss in Claudin 4 expression was found to have a relation with distant metastasis.
Conclusions: Claudin 1, 4, and 7 are important building blocks of paracellular adhesion molecules. Their decreased expression in colorectal cancer seems to have critical effects on cell proliferation, motility, invasion, and immune response against the tumor.