Background: None of the commonly used staging criteria accurately determine the prognosis of a patient with adenocarcinoma of Barrett's esophagus. The authors therefore assessed the expression pattern and prognostic impact of CD44 standard and CD44 isoforms CD44v4, v5,v6,v7, and v10 in adenocarcinoma of Barrett's esophagus.
Methods: Specimens from 41 patients with adenocarcinoma of Barrett's esophagus who underwent esophageal resection were embedded in paraffin and studied immunohistochemically to determine the expression of CD44 splice variants. Histomorphologic parameters and survival time were not known at the time of the investigation.
Results: Correlations between favorable clinical or histomorphologic parameters and CD44s or any of the split variants could not be established. Down-regulation of CD44s and the split variant v10 was significantly correlated with pT classification. Furthermore, down-regulation of CD44v10 and up-regulation of CD44v7 were significantly correlated with ploidy. There was a significant correlation between CD44s and split variants in tumorous and nontumorous tissue from the same patient. Down-regulation of CD44s and CD44v4 had a significant influence on prognosis in that it was associated with shortened life expectancy. Multivariate analysis revealed that the expression of CD44v4 was an independent factor in prognosis.
Conclusions: The results obtained for this small patient sample suggest that CD44v4 is a new independent prognostic parameter for adenocarcinoma of Barrett's esophagus that can be determined preoperatively by biopsy. It may therefore be helpful in planning therapy by allowing the identification of patients who may benefit from esophageal resection as well as those who are at high risk for morbidity and mortality even when the tumor is otherwise resectable. Further studies of larger patient samples are required to validate the results of the current study.