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Gastric cancer (GC) is one of the most common malignancies worldwide. Genes whose expression is down-regulated in GC may be tumour suppressor genes. In the present study, genes with decreased expression in GC were screened for by serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) data analysis and reverse transcription (RT)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR), andCLDN18(encoding claudin-18) was identified. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed that expression ofCLDN18was down-regulated in 13 (56.5%) of 23 GCs. Immunostaining showed that normal gastric mucosa and Paneth cells of the duodenum expressed claudin-18 on cell membranes. Expression of claudin-18 was reduced in several intestinal metaplasias of the stomach. Of 20 samples of gastric adenoma, 18 (90.0%) showed decreased claudin-18 expression. Down-regulation of claudin-18 was observed in 84 of 146 GCs (57.5%) and correlated with poor survival in 65 advanced GCs (p= 0.0346). In addition, expression of the gastric and intestinal phenotypes of GC was examined by immunostaining for MUC5AC, MUC6, MUC2, and CD10. Of 38 GCs showing only the intestinal phenotype, down-regulation of claudin-18 was observed in 28 (73.7%), whereas in the remaining 108 GC cases, down-regulation of claudin-18 was observed in 56 (51.9%) (p= 0.0224). These results indicate that claudin-18 is a good marker of poor survival in GC. Down-regulation of claudin-18 may be involved in GCs with an intestinal phenotype, and may be an early event in gastric carcinogenesis.