Aberrant crypt foci in human colons: distribution and histomorphologic characteristics

Hum Pathol. 1998 May;29(5):469-75. doi: 10.1016/s0046-8177(98)90062-4.


Aberrant crypt foci (ACF) are one of the earliest putative preneoplastic, and in some cases, neoplastic lesions in human colons. These microscopic lesions, identified on methylene blue-stained mucosa with a low-power-magnification microscope, are thought to be closely related to the earliest steps in multistage colonic tumorigenesis. We investigated the distribution pattern and histomorphological features of ACF in 74 patients with sporadic colorectal cancer. The distribution pattern shows a slightly higher prevalence with older age. The prevalence of the ACF in sigmoid colon was significantly higher in patients with colorectal cancer as compared with patients with benign colonic diseases. Also, significantly more ACF were detected in distal parts of the large bowel (descending, sigmoid colon, and rectum) than in proximal parts. Of 42 microdissected lesions, 12 were dysplastic and 30 were hyperplastic foci. The average size of dysplastic lesions was significantly larger than hyperplastic foci. More apoptotic bodies were found in dysplastic lesions. These lesions also showed an upward expansion of proliferative compartment and higher proliferation indices expressed as proliferating cell nuclear antigen-labeling index. Lymphoid follicles were frequently observed in the base of both hyperplastic and dysplastic foci (40% and 66.6%, respectively). The coincidence of lymphoid follicles was 2.5 to 8 times higher than expected. These features may be related to further progression of selected ACF during colorectal tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colon / metabolism
  • Colon / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia / pathology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Lymphoid Tissue / metabolism
  • Lymphoid Tissue / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitosis
  • Precancerous Conditions / metabolism
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology*
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / metabolism
  • Rectum / metabolism
  • Rectum / pathology*


  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen