E-cadherin expression as a differentiation marker in gastric cancer

Hepatogastroenterology. 1998 Nov-Dec;45(24):2437-42.


Background/aims: E-cadherin is a cell-cell adhesion molecule involved in tumor progression and metastasis. We evaluated the E-cadherin expression pattern in gastric cancer and investigated its relationship to histopathological features.

Methodology: The expression of E-cadherin was evaluated in 83 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens of gastric cancer by immunohistochemistry.

Results: In benign gastric mucosa, E-cadherin was expressed uniformly at the cell membrane. Abnormal E-cadherin expression with loss of membranous localization was found in 55 (56%) cancer specimens. Aberrant E-cadherin expression was found more often in diffuse (96%) and mixed type tumors (91%) than in intestinal type tumors (47%) (p=0.0001). A significantly higher proportion of signet-ring (84%) and undifferentiated tumors (87%) showed abnormal E-cadherin expression compared with adenocarcinomas with glandular morphology (57%) (p=0.01). There was a significant correlation between abnormal E-cadherin expression and degree of differentiation (p=0.0001), local tumor extent (p=0.002), and the presence of lymph node metastases (p=0.04).

Conclusions: Loss of normal E-cadherin expression may serve as a differentiation marker in gastric cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Antigens, Differentiation / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Cadherins / biosynthesis*
  • Gastric Mucosa / metabolism
  • Gastric Mucosa / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Stomach Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology


  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cadherins