, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 149-159

Cadherin-catenin adhesion system and mucin expression: a comparison between young and older patients with gastric carcinoma



Young patients are thought to develop gastric carcinomas with a molecular genetic profile that is distinct from that of gastric carcinomas occurring at a later age. The aim of this study was to compare the clinicopathological features and expression patterns of the markers E-cadherin and β-catenin, and mucins (MUC1, MUC2, MUC5AC, and MUC6) in young and older patients.


The clinicopathological features and overall survival data of 62 young patients (age ≤40 years) with gastric cancer were retrospectively reviewed from hospital records and compared with the data for 453 older patients (age >40 years). A tissue microarray method and immunohistochemistry were used in order to analyze marker expression in paraffinembedded tissue blocks obtained from both groups.


The young group presented a higher percentage of diffuse-type tumors in comparison to the older group (P < 0.01). The rates of positivity for E-cadherin and β-catenin membranous expression patterns and mucin (MUC2, MUC5AC and MUC6) positivity were higher in the young group (P < 0.01). Although young patients showed a lower frequency of alterations in marker expression and had significantly better survival rates than the older patients, neither age nor the marker expression pattern were found to be independent prognostic factors of survival. Only stage, tumor size, and tumor location persisted as prognostic factors for patients with gastric cancer.


Biological markers of cellular adhesion and gastric differentiation were differently expressed in young and older patients. Our findings support the hypothesis that young patients develop carcinomas with a different genetic pathway compared to the pathway of tumors occurring at a later age, and we suggest further investigations to assess the prognostic relevance of the markers to specific subgroups.