Epithelial and stromal genetic instability contributes to genesis of colorectal adenomas

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Previously, we indicated that stromal genetic instability might contribute to tumorigenesis of both sporadic and ulcerative colitis associated colorectal adenocarcinomas. Considering the established adenoma-adenocarcinoma sequence, in this study we analysed genetic instability in colorectal adenoma cells and surrounding stroma.


In 164 colorectal tumours (34 hyperplastic polyps, 38 tubular adenomas with low grade dysplasia (TA-L), 51 tubular adenomas with high grade dysplasia (TA-H), and 41 invasive carcinomas), epithelial and stromal genetic instability with National Cancer Institute standard microsatellite markers and chromosome 17 (Chr17) markers, were analysed by a combination of laser capture microdissection and GeneScan approaches.


While frequencies of both loss of heterozygosity (LOH) and microsatellite instability (MSI) were extremely low in hyperplastic polyps, LOH in tubular adenomas was detected in both epithelial (TA-L 13.2%, TA-H 27.5%) and stromal (5.3% and 5.9%, respectively) elements, along with MSI (5.3% and 13.7%, and 5.3 and 5.9%, respectively). Frequencies of epithelial alterations were higher in TA-H than in TA-L, and greatest in the carcinoma group. On the other hand, frequencies of stromal LOH or MSI were almost constant (5.3% ∼ 17.1%, 5.3% ∼ 17.1%, respectively) in adenomas and invasive carcinomas. In addition, p53 was found to be significantly overexpressed in a greater proportion of TA-L with LOH than in those without genetic instability.


The results indicate the presence of genetic alterations in stroma from an early stage of carcinogenesis, accompanied by stepwise increasing genetic instability of epithelia with progression to cancer. Thus microenvironmental changes due to genetic alteration in Chr17 markers in stromal cells may play an important role in colon adenoma and adenocarcinoma development.

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