Recent studies have suggested that oesophageal submucosal gland (ESMG) ducts harbour progenitor cells that may contribute to oesophageal metaplasia. Our objective was to determine whether histological differences exist between the ESMGs of individuals with and without oesophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC).Methods and results:
We performed histological assessment of 343 unique ESMGs from 30 control patients, 24 patients with treatment-naïve high-grade columnar dysplasia (HGD) or EAC, and 23 non-EAC oesophagectomy cases. A gastrointestinal pathologist assessed haematoxylin and eosin-stained ESMG images by using a scoring system that assigns individual ESMG acini to five histological types (mucous, serous, oncocytic, dilated, or ductal metaplastic). In our model, ductal metaplastic acini were more common in patients with HGD/EAC (12.7%) than in controls (3.5%) (P = 0.006). We also identified greater proportions of acini with dilation (21.9%, P < 0.001) and, to a lesser extent, ductal metaplasia (4.3%, P = 0.001) in non-EAC oesophagectomy cases than in controls. Ductal metaplasia tended to occur in areas of mucosal ulceration or tumour.Conclusions:
We found a clear association between ductal metaplastic ESMG acini and HGD/EAC. Non-EAC cases had dilated acini and some ductal dilation. Because ESMGs and ducts harbour putative progenitor cells, these associations could have significance for understanding the pathogenesis of EAC.