Periostin as a key molecule defining desmoplastic environment in colorectal cancer

Virchows Arch. 2021 May;478(5):865-874. doi: 10.1007/s00428-020-02965-8. Epub 2020 Nov 19.


Categorizing desmoplastic reaction (DR) based on the histological findings of cancer-associated fibroblasts is shown to be a promising novel method to predict prognosis of patients with colorectal cancer (CRC). Periostin (POSTN) in cancer-associated stroma is reportedly associated with poor clinical outcomes. Immunohistochemical staining with an anti-POSTN antibody was performed in 73 patients with pStage III CRC (cohort 1). In addition, to evaluate mRNA and protein expression levels of POSTN, we analyzed paired normal and invasive cancer frozen specimens by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and western blot analysis in 41 patients (cohort 2). In cohort 1, according to the DR categorization, 18, 22, and 33 patients were classified as immature, intermediate, and mature, respectively. High immunoreactivity of POSTN was observed 100%, 68.2%, and 27.3%, respectively (p < 0.0001). The 5-year relapse-free survival rates were 56.8% and 82.7% in high and low POSTN expression subgroups, respectively (p = 0.015). In cohort 2, the POSTN mRNA and protein levels were significantly higher in the immature stroma as compared to the stroma characterized as other DR patterns. POSTN expression was closely associated with DR categorization. POSTN may be a key molecule that contributes to the malignant potential of CRC.

Keywords: Cancer-associated fibroblasts; Colorectal cancer; Desmoplastic reaction; Periostin; Polymerase chain reaction; Western blotting.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts / chemistry
  • Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / analysis*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stromal Cells / chemistry*
  • Stromal Cells / pathology
  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Up-Regulation


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • POSTN protein, human