Luo W-R, Chen X-Y, Li S-Y, Wu A-B & Yao K-T
(2012) Histopathology 61, 113–122
Neoplastic spindle cells in nasopharyngeal carcinoma show features of epithelial–mesenchymal transition
Aim: To investigate whether the neoplastic spindle cells in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) are associated with the process of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT).
Methods and results: We used immunohistochemistry to analyse the expression of cytokeratin, E-cadherin, β-catenin, vimentin, fibronectin, Snail1, Slug and aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) in 115 cases of NPC in which there were neoplastic spindle cells; in 47 cases a neoplastic squamous cell component was also present. There was no significant difference in the expression of cytokeratin observed in the neoplastic spindle cells (P = 0.644), compared to the squamous component whereas E-cadherin expression was reduced. By contrast, the expression of β-catenin, vimentin, fibronectin, Snail1, Slug and ALDH1 was up-regulated in the spindle cells (all P = 0.000). Furthermore, E-cadherin expression was associated negatively with β-catenin (P < 0.001), vimentin (P < 0.001), fibronectin (P < 0.001), Slug (P < 0.001) and ALDH1 (P < 0.001) in neoplastic spindle cells, but did not correlate with Snail1 expression (P =0.093).
Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate for the first time that EMT might play an important role in the development of neoplastic spindle cells in NPC.