Composition of extracellular matrix and distribution of cell adhesion molecules in renal cell tumors

Lab Invest. 1994 Nov;71(5):710-8.


Background: Cell to cell and cell to matrix interactions play a major role in tumor growth and invasion. Therefore, we studied the composition of extracellular matrices and the distribution of cell adhesion molecules in 50 renal cell tumors of various types and various grades of malignancy as compared with nontumoral kidney.

Experimental design: In the present study, we used immunolabeling with specific antibodies directed against the alpha 1, alpha 2, and alpha 3 chains of collagen type IV; laminin; heparan sulfate proteoglycan; fibronectin; collagen I; collagen III; the alpha 1, alpha 2, alpha 3, alpha 5, alpha 6, alpha v, beta 1, and beta 3 subunits of integrins; and ICAM-1, VCAM-1, and ELAM-1 molecules.

Results: In clear cell type carcinomas (24 cases) the basal laminae surrounding the tumor islets contained the alpha 1 and alpha 2 chains of collagen type IV and heparan sulfate proteoglycan in all cases, and laminin in 96% of the cases. The alpha 3 chain of collagen IV was present in only one case, whereas fibronectin, collagen I, and collagen III were detected in nearly 50% of the cases. The tumor cells expressed alpha 3, alpha 6, and beta 1 integrin subunits in all cases, alpha 5 in 25%, alpha v beta 3 in 54%, and alpha 2 in none. ICAM-1 was detected in all cases, and VCAM-1 in 58%. The expression of the alpha 6 subunit was weak in 2 tumors of high grade, whereas the alpha v subunit was expressed in 7 of 14 low grade and in 7 of 10 intermediate and high grade tumors. In tubulopapillary carcinomas with chromophilic cells (12 cases), the most prominent findings were the presence of the alpha 3 chain of collagen IV in tumor basal laminae in 66% and the expression of the alpha 2 integrin subunit by the tumor cells in 58% of the cases, both features characterizing distal renal tubules. In chromophobic carcinomas (4 cases), the tumor basement membranes were tenuous and contained no fibronectin or interstitial collagens. The tumor cells expressed the alpha 6, alpha 2, alpha 3, beta 1, and alpha nu beta 3 integrin subunits but neither ICAM-1 nor VCAM-1 molecules. In oncocytomas (10 cases), the tumor basement membranes contained the alpha 1, alpha 2, and alpha 3 chains of collagen IV, laminin, and heparan sulfate proteoglycan. Fibronectin was not detected, whereas interstitial collagens were present in half of the cases. In all tumors, cells expressed the alpha 6 and beta 1 integrin subunits, whereas alpha 2, alpha 3, and alpha nu beta 3 were present in 30%, 60%, and 90% of the cases, respectively. ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 were not detected. The vascular endothelial cells of the stroma expressed the alpha 1, alpha 5, alpha 6, and beta 1 integrin subunits in all 50 of the studied tumors. In addition, ICAM-1 was detected in 84%, VCAM-1 in 50%, and ELAM-1 in 34% irrespective of tumor cell type, growth, or nuclear grade.

Conclusions: These results suggest that each type of renal cell tumor produces particular extracellular matrix components and expresses a characteristic repertoire of cell adhesion molecules, which could provide better understanding of the origin of these tumors. The expression of the alpha nu beta 3 integrin subunit was demonstrated in all types of renal cell tumors and was not found to be related to high grade tumors. Stromal vascular endothelial cells expressed activation molecules VCAM-1 and ELAM-1 in a significant number of cases in both benign and malignant tumors.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / pathology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Basement Membrane / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix / chemistry*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Kidney Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Integrins
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1