In an earlier study, the authors demonstrated that tumor budding was useful for predicting lymph node metastasis in patients with early invasive (T1) colorectal carcinoma. This study was undertaken to clarify the associations between tumor budding, E-cadherin-catenin complex, and CD44 variant 6 abnormalities.
In 51 T1 colorectal carcinomas, tumor budding (the number of dedifferentiation units at the invasive margin) on hematoxylin and eosin-stained slides was counted under light microscopy. Immunostaining for E-cadherin, α-catenin, β-catenin, and CD44 variant 6 was performed on formalin fixed, paraffin embedded sections. The associations between locoregional failure (lymph node metastasis or local recurrence) and tumor budding and clinicopathologic parameters and immunoreactivity were examined statistically.
In univariate analysis, tumor budding and nuclear β-catenin expression were associated significantly with locoregional failure (P = 0.004, 0.01). Multivariate analysis showed that tumor budding alone was associated significantly with locoregional failure (P = 0.02), and the association between nuclear β-catenin expression and locoregional failure was marginally significant (P = 0.07). Analysis of variance showed that lymphatic invasion alone was associated significantly with tumor budding (P = 0.02), and there was a significant interaction effect for tumor budding between CD44 variant 6 expression and nuclear β-catenin expression (P = 0.01). There was a significant correlation between expression patterns of these two molecules and locoregional failure (P = 0.01).
The current results suggest that the up-regulation of CD44 variant 6 through nuclear β-catenin activation may contribute to the formation of tumor budding, and immunostaining of these two adhesion molecules may be useful in identifying those at high-risk for locoregional failure among patients with T1 colorectal carcinoma. Cancer 2001;92:2539–46. © 2001 American Cancer Society.