Progastrin: a potential predictive marker of liver metastasis in colorectal cancer

Int J Colorectal Dis. 2017 Jul;32(7):1061-1064. doi: 10.1007/s00384-017-2822-8. Epub 2017 Apr 21.


Background and aims: Staging of colorectal cancer often fails to discriminate outcomes of patients with morphologically similar tumours that exhibit different clinical behaviours. Data from several studies suggest that the gastrin family of growth factors potentiates colorectal cancer tumourigenesis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether progastrin expression may predict clinical outcome in colorectal cancer.

Methods: Patients with colorectal adenocarcinoma of identical depth of invasion who had not received neoadjuvant therapy were included. The patients either had stage IIa disease with greater than 3-year disease-free survival without adjuvant therapy or stage IV disease with liver metastases on staging CT. Progastrin expression in tumour sections was scored with reference to the intensity and area of immunohistochemical staining.

Results: Progastrin expression by stage IV tumours was significantly greater than stage IIa tumours with mean progastrin immunopositivity scores of 2.1 ± 0.2 versus 0.5 ± 0.2, respectively (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: This is the first study to show that progastrin expression may be predictive of aggressive tumour behaviour in patients with colorectal cancer and supports its clinical relevance and potential use as a biomarker.

Keywords: Cancer; Colorectal; Gastrin; Prognostic marker.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Gastrins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Protein Precursors / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Gastrins
  • Protein Precursors
  • big gastrin