• human aberrant crypt foci;
  • colon cancer precursors;
  • biomarkers;
  • chemoprevention;
  • colorectal cancer


Aberrant crypt foci (ACF), the earliest identified monoclonal lesions in the colon, provide insights into changes that promote and/or accompany the transformation of normal colonic epithelial cells to colorectal cancer. Fatty acid synthase (FAS), the primary enzyme involved in de novo lipogenesis from carbohydrates, is expressed at low levels in most normal human tissues but is elevated in several human neoplasms including colorectal adenomas and carcinomas. To determine if this pathway is altered even earlier in colorectal tumorigenesis, 35 human ACF from 21 patients were evaluated for the immunohistochemical expression of FAS. Sections of colon cancer served as positive controls, and normal colonic mucosa distant from cancer or ACF served as negative controls. FAS expression was increased in 30 (86%) ACF compared with that in adjacent normal colonic mucosa. The expression of FAS in ACF was not related to the degree of dysplasia or to the number of crypts in the ACF. The over expression of FAS in a high proportion of ACF suggests that this enzyme plays an important role very early in colorectal tumorigenesis and may be a target for chemoprevention. © 2009 UICC