, Volume 268, Issue 9, pp 1335-1341,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 15 Jan 2011

The cadherin–catenin complex in nasopharyngeal carcinoma


Abnormal Wnt signaling and impaired cell–cell adhesion due to abnormal E-cadherin and β-catenin function have been implicated in many cancers, but have not been fully explored in nasopharyngeal carcinoma. The aim of this study was to analyze β-Catenin cellular location and E-cadherin expression levels in nasopharyngeal carcinoma. E-cadherin expression levels were also correlated with clinical data and underlying pathology. β-Catenin and E-cadherin expression were examined in 18 nasopharyngeal carcinoma and 7 non-tumoral inflammatory pharynx tissues using immunohistochemical methods. Patient clinical data were collected, and histological evaluation was performed by hematoxylin/eosin staining. β-catenin was detected in membrane and cytoplasm in all cases of nasopharyngeal carcinoma, regardless of histological type; in non-tumoral tissues, however, β-catenin was observed only in the membrane. As for E-cadherin expression levels, strong staining was observed in most non-tumoral tissues, but staining was only moderate in nasopharyngeal carcinoma tissues. E-cadherin expression was associated with β-catenin localization, study group, metastatic disease, and patient outcomes. Reduced levels of E-cadherin protein observed in nasopharyngeal carinoma may play an important role in invasion and metastasis. Cytoplasmic β-catenin in nasopharyngeal carcinoma may impair cell–cell adhesion, promoting invasive behavior and a metastatic tumor phenotype.