Growth patterns in various macroscopic types of noninvasive intramucosal colorectal carcinoma with special reference to apoptosis and cell proliferation

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Apoptotic cell death and cell proliferation play important roles in the histogenesis and development of colorectal carcinoma. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between apoptosis and cell proliferation in various macroscopic types of intramucosal colorectal carcinoma in relation to the expression of p53 and bcl-2.


One hundred forty cases with endoscopically or surgically resected intramucosal colorectal carcinoma were studied. There were 57 cases of polypoid-type carcinomas, 55 cases of superficial-type carcinomas, and 28 cases of granular-type, laterally spreading tumors. Polypoid-type carcinomas were pedunculated, subpedunculated, or sessile polyps. Superficial-type carcinomas were flat lesions with a smooth, even surface. Granular-type, laterally spreading tumors were superficially spreading lesions with aggregates of nodules and a granular surface. Apoptotic cells were identified by the in situ DNA nick end labeling method. Ki-67, p53, and bcl-2 expression were examined immunohistochemically.


The superficial-type carcinoma apoptotic index (30.9 percent) was significantly lower than that of polypoid-type carcinoma (54.4 percent) and granular-type, laterally spreading tumor (60.7 percent). The superficial-type carcinoma proliferative index (67.3 percent) was significantly higher than that of polypoid-type carcinoma (42.1 percent) and granular-type, laterally spreading tumor (28.6 percent). In superficial-type carcinomas the proliferative index in p53-positive carcinomas was significantly higher, and the apoptotic index was higher in carcinomas with a lower proliferative index. There was no significant difference in apoptotic index, proliferative index, or p53 protein overexpression between de novo carcinomas and those that had arisen in precursor adenomas.


The pattern of cell death and proliferation may vary with different macroscopic types of intramucosal colorectal carcinoma. Superficial-type colorectal carcinomas especially demonstrate diminished apoptosis and increased cell proliferation. This may be useful in understanding their biologic behavior.

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