The immunophenotypic relationship between the submucosal gland unit, columnar metaplasia and squamous islands in the columnar-lined oesophagus

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Abstract

Aims:

To characterize the immunophenotypic relationship between the squamous and the glandular compartments in the oesophagus of patients with columnar-lined oesophagus (CLO).

Methods and results:

Eight tissue blocks from three oesophageal resection specimens from patients who underwent oesophagectomy for adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus were selected for immunohistochemical analysis. The markers of intestinal differentiation [CK20, CDX2 and MUC2] were all expressed in the expected pattern, solely in the glandular compartment of the resection specimens. CK4, CK17 and lysozyme were expressed in both the glandular and the squamous compartments. In addition, CK17 expression was found on both the squamous and glandular margins of the squamocolumnar transformation zones and in the submucosal gland (SMG) intraglandular and excretory ducts.

Conclusions:

There is an immunophenotypic relationship between the squamous and the glandular compartments of the CLO, with expression of lysozyme, CK4 and CK17 in both squamous and columnar cells. These overlapping immunophenotypes indicate similar differentiation paths, and link the SMG unit with the columnar metaplasia and the neosquamous islands in CLO. Our findings support the theory of a cellular origin of CLO and neosquamous islands from the SMG unit.

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