, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 130-138

Lewis x is highly expressed in normal tissues: A comparative immunohistochemical study and literature revision

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Abstract

An immunohistochemical analysis was employed to determine the expression of carbohydrate antigens associated to mucins in normal epithelia. Tissue samples were obtained as biopsies from normal breast (18), colon (35) and oral cavity mucosa (8). The following carbohydrate epitopes were studied: sialyl-Lewis x, Lewis x, Lewis y, Tn hapten, sialyl-Tn and Thomsen-Friedenreich antigen. Mucins were also studied employing antibodies against MUC1, MUC2, MUC4, MUC5AC, MUC6 and also normal colonic glycolipid. Statistical analysis was performed and Kendall correlations were obtained. Lewis x showed an apical pattern mainly at plasma membrane, although cytoplasmic staining was also found in most samples. TF, Tn and sTn haptens were detected in few specimens, while sLewis x was found in oral mucosa and breast tissue. Also, normal breast expressed MUC1 at a high percentage, whereas MUC4 was observed in a small number of samples. Colon specimens mainly expressed MUC2 and MUC1, while most oral mucosa samples expressed MUC4 and MUC1. A positive correlation between MUC1VNTR and TF epitope (τ=0.396) was found in breast samples, while in colon specimens MUC2 and colonic glycolipid versus Lewis x were statistically significantly correlated (τ=0.28 and τ=0.29, respectively). As a conclusion, a defined carbohydrate epitope expression is not exclusive of normal tissue or a determined localization, and it is possible to assume that different glycoproteins and glycolipids may be carriers of carbohydrate antigens depending on the tissue localization considered.