• MUC5AC;
  • mucin;
  • ACF;
  • premalignant;
  • colon


Aberrant crypt foci (ACF) are microscopic lesions which have been postulated to precede the development of adenomas, precursors of colon cancer. The gastric M1/MUC5AC mucin has also been described as an early marker of colon carcinogenesis in the human and in the rat. To study changes in mucin expression associated with the genesis of tumors, Wistar rats were treated by intrarectal instillations of MNNG, twice a week for 2 weeks, and were sacrificed 10 (n = 20), 14 (n = 20), 22 (n = 20), 30 (n = 10) and 66 (n = 16) weeks after the beginning of the treatment. In the treated rats, the MUC5AC mucin was mainly expressed in ACF compared with the histologically normal mucosae, which showed few isolated MUC5AC-positive normal crypts. During carcinogenesis, the percentage of large ACF [≥≥10 aberrant crypts] increased and the number of MUC5AC-positive (NCs) decreased. At Week 30, small tumors were observed arising from large ACF, both types of lesions expressing MUC5AC. At Week 66, large tumors showed remnants of MUC5AC-positive ACF in their adjacent mucosae. This observation suggests that the expression of MUC5AC is associated with the ACF/adenoma sequence and supports the notion of large ACF as precursors of adenomas/adenocarcinomas. Moreover, the expression of MUC5AC in the transitional mucosa adjacent to both rat and human colon tumors suggests that some human tumors could arise from large ACF, and reinforces the concept of the premalignant potential of these lesions. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.