Reduction or loss of HLA-A,B,C antigens in colorectal carcinoma appears not to influence survival

Br J Cancer. 1988 Apr;57(4):364-8. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1988.83.


Primary colorectal carcinomas of an unselected group of 159 patients 126 of whom could be curatively resected were examined for the expression of MHC class I antigens with monoclonal antibody W6/32 directed against a non-polymorphic determinant of HLA-A,B,C heavy chain. One hundred and nine (68.6%) were found to express HLA-A,B,C antigens in normal quantities, 33 (20.8%) showed a substantial reduction in expression, while 17 (10%) lacked these antigens either completely or incompletely. The loss of HLA-A,B,C was inversely correlated with the degree of differentiation. The tendency of mucinous carcinomas to lack class I antigens was statistically not significant. Tumours with distant metastatic spread at the time of operation tended to be normal with respect to HLA-A,B,C expression. Within the curatively resected group, poor differentiation and mucus production were risk factors for survival as could be shown by life table analysis after a maximum follow-up of 39 months. In contrast, the mode of HLA-A,B,C expression of the primary tumour did not influence survival within this time of observation. We conclude that in spite of increasing experimental data suggesting the contrary, the presence or absence of MHC class I antigens does not seem to profoundly modify tumour biology, at least in human colorectal carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / immunology
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / immunology
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / immunology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Female
  • HLA Antigens / analysis*
  • HLA-A Antigens
  • HLA-B Antigens
  • HLA-C Antigens
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rectal Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Rectal Neoplasms / mortality


  • HLA Antigens
  • HLA-A Antigens
  • HLA-B Antigens
  • HLA-C Antigens