Background & aims: Contribution of transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) to tumor progression has been suggested. However, little is known about the role of TGF-beta 1 in colorectal cancer. Plasma TGF-beta 1 levels and its expression were analyzed in patients with colorectal cancer.
Methods: Plasma TGF-beta 1 levels were measured in 22 patients with colorectal cancer using a TGF-beta 1 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Expression of TGF-beta 1 messenger RNA and immunohistochemical distribution of the protein in colorectal cancer tissues were examined.
Results: Plasma TGF-beta 1 levels in patients with colorectal cancer (14.8 +/- 8.4 ng/mL) were significantly higher than in normal controls (1.9 +/- 1.4; n = 22) (P < 0.001). After curative surgical resection, plasma TGF-beta 1 levels decreased in examined patients from 11.9 +/- 6.7 to 3.8 +/- 1.2 ng/mL (P < 0.01). TGF-beta 1 messenger RNA was about 2 1/2 times more abundant in colorectal cancer tissues than in control (P < 0.01). TGF-beta 1 was detected in the cytoplasm of colorectal cancer cells immunohistochemically. Both TGF-beta 1 messenger RNA expression in colorectal adenocarcinoma tissues and its plasma levels were associated with tumor stage of Dukes' classification (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: These results suggest that plasma TGF-beta 1 levels may reflect overexpression of the gene in colon cancer tissues and are associated with disease progression.