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Keywords:

  • Colorectal cancer;
  • PAR-2;
  • mast cell;
  • tryptase;
  • NHERF1;
  • prognostic factor;
  • invasiveness;
  • aggressiveness

Abstract

Tryptase(+) mast cells (MCs), abundant in the invasive front of tumours, contribute to tissue remodelling. Indeed, protease-activated receptor-2 (PAR-2) activation by MC-tryptase is considered an oncogenic event in colorectal cancer (CRC). Recently, we have suggested NHERF1 as a potential new marker in CRC. In this study, we aimed to determine the distribution of tryptase(+) MCs and PAR-2 and to examine the relationship between PAR-2 and NHERF1, investigating their reputed usefulness as tumour markers. We studied a cohort of 115 CRC specimens including primary cancer (C) and adjacent normal mucosa (NM) by immunohistochemical double staining, analyzing the protein expression of MC-tryptase, PAR-2 and cytoplasmic NHERF1. MC density was higher in NM than in C. Tumours with high TNM stage and poor grade showed the highest MC density. A higher PAR-2 immunoreactivity characterized tumours most infiltrated by MCs compared with samples with low MC density. Furthermore, PAR-2 overexpression was associated with advanced TNM stage, poor grade and lymphovascular invasion (LVI). A positive correlation existed between tryptase(+) MC density and PAR-2 expression. Cytoplasmic NHERF1 was higher in C than in NM and overexpressing tumours resulted associated with nodal and distant metastases, poor grade and LVI. PAR-2 correlated with cytoplasmic NHERF1 and the PAR-2(+)/cytoplasmic NHERF1(+) expression immunophenotype identified tumours associated with unfavourable prognosis and aggressive clinical parameters. Our data indicate that the high density of tryptase(+) MCs at invasive margins of tumours was associated with advanced stages of CRC and was strongly correlated with PAR-2 expression.