• Open Access

Identification of preneoplastic lesions as mucin-depleted foci in patients with sporadic colorectal cancer


To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: yoshimi@med.u-ryukyu.ac.jp


In experimental models, mucin-depleted foci (MDF), formed by dysplastic crypts devoid of mucin production have been recognized to be correlated with colorectal carcinogenesis and to serve as preneoplastic lesions of colorectal cancer (CRC). In humans, there is only one report of identification of MDF in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis and CRC; however, the histological characteristics of human MDF are not discussed extensively in the report. In the present study, colonic samples from 53 patients with sporadic CRC were stained with Alcian blue and examined for the presence of MDF. Subsequently, the samples were examined for the presence of aberrant crypt foci (ACF) by methylene blue staining. We classified MDF into two categories: flat-MDF and protruded-MDF (having the characteristics of both ACF and MDF). We found a total of 354, 41 and 19 colonic mucosal lesions with a mean multiplicity of 44, 38.9 and 66.9 crypts (ACF, flat-MDF and protruded-MDF, respectively). The density of MDF was 0.0082 lesions/cm2. The ACF identified in sporadic CRC patients corresponded to hyperplastic or non-dysplasic lesions. However, MDF identified in these patients corresponded to low-grade dysplasia. In addition, we found that Paneth cell metaplasia and inflammatory cell infiltration were specific histological features of MDF. These histological characteristics are reported to be associated with the development of CRC. Therefore, our results indicate that MDF might represent preneoplastic lesions in human colorectal carcinogenesis. (Cancer Sci 2012; 103: 144–149)