• colorectal carcinoma;
  • MUC1;
  • Lewis antigens;
  • epithelial mucin;
  • tumour-associated antigen;
  • monoclonal antibody;
  • prognosis

Comparative evaluation of the prognostic value of MUC1, MUC2, sialyl-Lewisa and sialyl-Lewisx antigens in colorectal adenocarcinoma

Aims: The significance of MUC1, MUC2 and sialylated Lewis blood group antigens as prognostic markers in colorectal adenocarcinoma was investigated in a large series of patients because previous investigations revealed inconsistent results due to unrelated tumour samples from different patient groups and methodological differences.

Methods and results: Tissues from 243 patients with colorectal adenocarcinoma were stained immunohistochemically. MUC1 showed a strong immunoreactivity (in more than 35% of the tumour area) in 32.5%, MUC2 in 51.0%, sialyl-Lewisx in 67.9% and sialyl-Lewisa in 73.7% of the cases, respectively. MUC1 immunoreactivity displayed a significant correlation with tumour progression as reflected by advancing pTNM staging and poor differentiation. MUC2 expression was significantly stronger in mucinous adenocarcinomas. Sialyl-Lewisx immunostaining correlated with the extent of lymph node metastasis as well as low cytological differentiation. According to univariate and multivariate analysis (P < 0.0001) only MUC1 reactivity represented a marker of worse survival probability, opposed to the sialylated Lewis antigens that did not exert a predictive value.

Conclusions: According to our data, MUC1 and sialyl-Lewisx immunoreactivity exhibit statistically significant correlations with established markers of tumour progression. However, only MUC1 presents as an independent prognostic factor of colorectal adenocarcinoma.