International Journal of Colorectal Disease

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 361–368 | Cite as

Expression of tight and adherens junction proteins in ulcerative colitis associated colorectal carcinoma: upregulation of claudin-1, claudin-3, claudin-4, and β-catenin

  • S. T. Mees
  • R. Mennigen
  • T. Spieker
  • E. Rijcken
  • N. Senninger
  • J. Haier
  • M. Bruewer
Original Article



Tight junction (TJ) proteins play a critical role in cellular adhesion, glandular differentiation, and cellular proliferation. The function of these proteins is compromised in a number of intestinal diseases, including ulcerative colitis that has an increased incidence for colorectal carcinoma (CAC). The aim of this study was to determine the expression of TJ proteins, claudin-1–4, occludin, ZO-1, and the adherens junction (AJ) protein β-catenin in CAC.


Sixteen colectomy specimens with CAC, adjoining intraepithelial neoplasia, and normal mucosa were studied by immunofluorescence. A semiquantitative evaluation of all investigated proteins was performed by scoring the staining intensity, and the TJ and AJ protein expression in neoplastic cells was compared to normal and intraepithelial neoplastic colonic mucosa.


Using an intensity scoring system, mucosa of crypts and surfaces of CAC exhibited significantly elevated expression levels of claudin-1, claudin-3, claudin-4, and β-catenin compared to intraepithelial neoplasia and normal mucosa (p < 0.05). These data were confirmed by a comparative score. The expression of claudin-2, occludin, and ZO-1 showed no differences between the groups.


TJ proteins claudin-1, claudin-3, claudin-4, and the AJ protein β-catenin are overexpressed in CAC. This suggests that these proteins may become potential markers and targets in CAC.


Ulcerative colitis Colorectal cancer Tight junction Claudin Cell–cell adhesion 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. T. Mees
    • 1
  • R. Mennigen
    • 1
  • T. Spieker
    • 2
  • E. Rijcken
    • 1
  • N. Senninger
    • 1
  • J. Haier
    • 1
  • M. Bruewer
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of General and Visceral SurgeryUniversity Hospital of MuensterMuensterGermany
  2. 2.Gerhard-Domagk-Institute of PathologyUniversity Hospital of MuensterMuensterGermany
  3. 3.Department of General and Visceral SurgeryUniversity Hospital of MuensterMuensterGermany

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