Clinical significance of microsatellite instability in the inflamed mucosa for the prediction of colonic neoplasms in patients with ulcerative colitis


Dr Toshifumi Hibi, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Keio University, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160–8582, Japan. Email: address:


Background and Aim:  Although molecular mechanisms underlying ulcerative colitis (UC)-associated neoplasms have been studied for years, understanding of these mechanisms remains incomplete and no good predictable marker for development of colonic neoplasms in patients with UC has been established. The aim of this study was to assess if microsatellite instability (MSI) contributes to the development of colonic neoplasms in patients with UC.

Methods:  We have examined MSI in chronic inflamed and neoplastic colonic mucosa of UC patients. We have also obtained serial biopsied colonic tissues retrospectively 2–12 years before the final diagnosis from patients with high level MSI (MSI-H+) UC-associated neoplasms, and analyzed MSI using them at different periods.

Results:  Eight of 12 UC-associated colon cancers (67%), four of six UC-associated high grade dysplasias (67%), and two of six UC-associated low grade dysplasias (33%) revealed MSI-H+ phenotypes. In contrast, 15 of 59 lesions (25%) in inflamed UC mucosa without colonic neoplasm revealed MSI-H +. Interestingly, all four patients with MSI-H+ phenotypes at the final diagnosis of UC-associated colon cancer or dysplasia had already had MSI-H+ at the stage of chronic colitis, 2–12 years before the final diagnosis.

Conclusion:  These results support the notion that MSI contributes to the carcinogenesis of UC-associated neoplasms, and indicate that this analysis in inflamed colonic mucosa at surveillance colonoscopy is useful for identifying UC patients who have high risk for neoplastic progression.