Detection of telomerase activity in biopsy samples of colorectal cancer

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Abstract

Background:

Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein that synthesizes telomeric DNA onto chromosomal ends. The expression of telomerase is thought to be required for cellular immortality and oncogenesis.

Methods:

To investigate the role of telomerase in the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer, we analysed telomerase activity in biopsy samples of colorectal cancer and colonic adenomas. Using a polymerase chain reaction-based assay, we examined telomerase activity in 52 samples of colorectal cancer, 12 colonic adenomas and 30 normal colonic mucosa samples obtained by endoscopic biopsy.

Results:

Telomerase activity was detectable in 88.5% (46/52) of colorectal carcinomas, in 50% (6/12) of colonic adenomas but not in normal colorectal mucosa. There was no correlation between telomerase activity and tumour location, type, size and differentiation (P > 0.05).

Conclusions:

It was concluded that telomerase activation plays a role in the evolution of colorectal cancer, and that measurement of telomerase activity in biopsied colorectal mucosa samples may provide information both as a diagnostic marker to detect small numbers of cancer cells, and as a screening method for patients at high risk for colorectal carcinoma.

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