The aim of this study was to ascertain whether apoptotic counts have prognostic significance in colorectal cancer and if such counts are related to the expression of proteins implicated in cell cycle regulation. Material from a cohort of patients aged 45 years or less with colorectal carcinoma was re-examined to determine apoptotic and mitotic counts by light microscopy, in addition to assessing p53, c-myc, and bcl-2 protein status by immunohistochemistry. The apoptotic index in the 74 patients who were alive or who had died of colorectal carcinoma ranged from 1.2 per cent to 12.3 per cent and exhibited independent prognostic significance, with high counts predicting better survival (P = 0.02). Mitotic counts were not related to survival, despite a close correlation with apoptosis (r = 0.85). Tumours regarded as not staining with the CM1 antibody for p53 protein demonstrated higher apoptotic counts, compared with those that stained (medians 5.2 and 4.0 per cent, respectively; P = 0.03), but p53 expression was found not to be related to survival. The 68 tumours which stained for c-myc appeared to exhibit higher mitotic counts than those that did not. bcl-2 was detected in only four tumours. The latter two proteins exhibited no apparent relationship to the apoptotic index or survival. Although these results indicate a potential role for apoptotic counting in prognostic prediction in colorectal tumours, this is an uncommon group of patients who exhibited some atypical features. The likelihood of a proportion of cases arising within hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer syndrome may limit the application of the findings to a more general population with cancer of the colon and rectum. Further work is required, including critical measurement of reproducibility and assessment of the relative impact of this parameter compared with 'traditional' prognostic markers.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Journal of Pathology|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Aug 1997|
- colorectal neoplasia
- protein p53
- proto-oncogene product c-myc