Expression of p21WAF1/CIP1 in colorectal adenomas and adenocarcinomas and its correlation with p53 protein expression

Pathol Int. 1997 Jul;47(7):470-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1827.1997.tb04526.x.


The expression of p53-inducible cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p21WAF1/CIP1 in non-neoplastic mucosa, adenoma and adenocarcinoma of the colorectum was examined by immunohistochemistry and western blotting and its relation with the expression of p53 protein was analyzed. Non-neoplastic epithelial cells at the surface area showing no proliferative activity expressed p21WAF1/CIP1. The expression of p21WAF1/CIP1 was immunohistochemically detected in 55% (206/377) of the adenomas and 66% (190/289) of the adenocarcinomas, respectively. The incidence of strongly positive cases was significantly higher in the adenocarcinomas (27%) than in the adenomas (18%) (P < 0.05). The incidence of cases with strong p21WAF1/CIP1 expression was higher in stages 0, 1 and 2 carcinomas than in stages 3 and 4 carcinomas (P < 0.05). A decrease in the incidence of cases with strong expression was detected in carcinomas invading deeper than muscularis propria. The incidence of strongly positive cases was significantly lower in carcinomas with lymph node metastasis than those without metastasis (P < 0.05). The expression of p21 as well as p53 detected by western blotting was compatible with the results of immunohistochemistry in most cases examined. However, there was no significant correlation between the expression of p21WAF1/CIP1 and the abnormal accumulation of p53. These findings overall suggest that: (i) the physiological expression of p21WAF1/CIP1 may be associated with cellular senescence of colorectal mucosa; (ii) reduced expression of p21WAF1/CIP1 may participate in the progression of colorectal carcinoma; and (iii) p53-independent pathway may be considerably involved in the induction of p21WAF1/CIP1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenoma / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Ki-67 Antigen / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • CDKN1A protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53