Abnormal immunoreactivity of the E-cadherin-catenin complex in gastric carcinoma: relationship with patient survival

Gastroenterology. 1997 Jan;112(1):46-54. doi: 10.1016/s0016-5085(97)70218-x.


Background & aims: The E-cadherin-catenin complex plays a critical role in the maintenance of normal tissue architecture. Mutation of any of its components is believed to result in loss of cell-cell adhesion and contribute to neoplasia. The aim of this study was to examine the expression of E-cadherin and alpha-, beta-, and gamma-catenin in gastric carcinoma and dysplasia and determine any relationship with tumor characteristics and survival.

Methods: Immunoperoxidase staining of E-cadherin and alpha-, beta-, and gamma-catenin was performed using 89 gastric carcinomas, lymph node metastases, and gastric biopsy specimens from 14 patients with dysplasia and 10 healthy controls.

Results: Membranous staining was observed in control biopsy specimens for all components of the complex. Up to 57% of gastric dysplasia and 90% of tumors stained abnormally for one or more components of the cadherin-catenin complex. Abnormal E-cadherin and gamma-catenin staining occurred more frequently in diffuse than intestinal tumors (P < 0.0005 and < 0.05, respectively). No association with tumor grade or stage was found. A survival advantage was noted in intestinal and diffuse tumors retaining membranous expression of beta-catenin, independent of tumor type, grade, or stage (P < 0.005).

Conclusions: Abnormal expression of the E-cadherin-catenin complex occurs frequently in gastric carcinoma. The close correlation with poor survival suggests that abnormal beta-catenin may be a useful prognostic marker.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadherins / analysis*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / analysis*
  • Desmoplakins
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / chemistry
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Proteins / analysis*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Trans-Activators*
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin
  • gamma Catenin


  • CTNNA1 protein, human
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Desmoplakins
  • JUP protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin
  • gamma Catenin