Pathology & Oncology Research

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 371–376 | Cite as

Increase of α-SMA+ and CK+ Cells as an Early Sign of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition during Colorectal Carcinogenesis

  • Gábor Valcz
  • Ferenc Sipos
  • Tibor Krenács
  • Jeannette Molnár
  • Árpád V. Patai
  • Katalin Leiszter
  • Kinga Tóth
  • Barna Wichmann
  • Béla Molnár
  • Zsolt Tulassay


Our aim was to examine cell transition events by detecting the frequency of intrapithelial α-smooth muscle actin (SMA)+/cytokeratin (CK)+ cells during colorectal adenoma–carcinoma sequence, in relation to E-cadherin expression. Our further aim was to determine the proliferative activity of intraepithelial α-SMA+ cells. Histologically healthy, adenoma, and colorectal cancer (CRC) biopsy samples were taken during routine colonoscopy and were included into tissue microarrays (TMAs). Slides immunostained for Ki-67, α-SMA, E-cadherin and pan-cytokeratin were digitalized and analyzed by using a digital microscope software. The proportion of α-SMA+/CK+ cells was significantly higher in CRC samples (3.34 ± 1.01%) compared to healthy (1.94 ± 0.69%) or adenoma (1.62 ± 0.78%) samples (p < 0.01). E-cadherin expression negatively correlated with the number of α-SMA+ cells. The majority of intraepithelial α-SMA+ cells were in the proliferative phase. During tumor progression, the appearance of dot-like α-SMA staining in CK positive cells may indicate the initial phase of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The high proportion of intraepithelial α-SMA+ proliferating cells may refer to their increased plasticity compared to differentiated cells. The negative correlation between E-cadherin and intraepithelial α-SMA expression suggests that EMT is facilitated by a loss of epithelial cell contact.


Epithelial–myofibroblast transition Adenoma–carcinoma sequence Cytokeratin Alpha–smooth muscle actin 


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Copyright information

© Arányi Lajos Foundation 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gábor Valcz
    • 1
  • Ferenc Sipos
    • 1
  • Tibor Krenács
    • 2
  • Jeannette Molnár
    • 3
  • Árpád V. Patai
    • 1
  • Katalin Leiszter
    • 1
  • Kinga Tóth
    • 1
  • Barna Wichmann
    • 1
  • Béla Molnár
    • 4
  • Zsolt Tulassay
    • 4
  1. 1.Cell Analysis Laboratory, 2nd Department of Internal MedicineSemmelweis UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.1st Department of Pathology and Experimental Cancer ResearchSemmelweis UniversityBudapestHungary
  3. 3.National Institute of Food and Nutrition ScienceBudapestHungary
  4. 4.Molecular Medicine Research Unit, Hungarian Academy of SciencesBudapestHungary

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