Tumor Biology

, Volume 36, Issue 12, pp 9411–9419 | Cite as

High expression of CD39/ENTPD1 in malignant epithelial cells of human rectal adenocarcinoma

  • Bin Zhang
  • Bo Cheng
  • Feng-Sheng Li
  • Jian-Hua Ding
  • Ying-Ying Feng
  • Guang-Zuan Zhuo
  • Hua-Feng Wei
  • Ke Zhao
Research Article


The ectonucleotidase CD39 is pivotal in the conversion of immunostimulatory adenosine triphosphate (ATP) into immunosuppressive adenosine which potently inhibits host immune responses against cancer. This study investigated the expression level and prognostic significance of CD39 in human rectal adenocarcinoma. Our data demonstrated that CD39 staining strongly marked malignant epithelial cells where the protein and messenger RNA (mRNA) expression levels of CD39 were significantly increased compared with paracancerous controls. In addition to primary tumors, CD39 was also abundantly expressed in liver metastases and tumor-draining lymph nodes from metastatic rectal adenocarcinoma. Although patients with higher CD39 density in tumor cells were more likely to have favorable characteristics (early TNM and N stages) and overall survival, the singular parameter cannot be used as an independent factor for predicting patients’ prognosis. Intriguingly, combined analysis of CD39 and CD73 expression was more efficient to foretell patient’s outcome where patients with increased CD73 but decreased CD39 levels displayed a worst prognosis. Taken together, the current study revealed that malignant epithelial cells of human rectal adenocarcinoma strongly express CD39 that may play a potential role in the tumor invasion and metastasis. Although high expression of CD39 in tumor cells is correlated with favorable clinical outcome, the combination of CD39 and CD73 expression may have a better prognostic value.


CD39 ENTPD1 CD73 Rectal adenocarcinoma Survival 



A special thanks to Pro. Wen Wen for his technical assistance.


This work was supported by the Beijing Natural Science Foundation (7133254 to Bin Zhang). The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Conflicts of interest


Supplementary material

13277_2015_3683_Fig7_ESM.jpg (2.7 mb)
Supporting Figure 1

IHC characteristics of CD39 and CD73 in human rectal adenocarcinoma. (a, b) Representative IHC images of tumoral CD39 and CD73 in the same tumor area. The digital images analyzed with the Aperio ImageScope software (×200-fold magnification). Micrograph indicates the amplified morphology of tissue. Black scale bars, 100 um. (JPEG 2716 kb)

13277_2015_3683_Fig8_ESM.gif (62 kb)
Supporting Figure 2

The prognostic significance of combining tumoral CD39 and CD73 expression in human rectal adenocarcinoma. (a, b, c) The OS rates of patients with high (above median) or low (below median) CD39 and CD73 levels in tumor cells were compared using Kaplan-Meier analysis. (GIF 62 kb)

13277_2015_3683_MOESM1_ESM.tif (1.5 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIFF 1489 kb)
13277_2015_3683_MOESM2_ESM.doc (44 kb)
Supporting Table 1 (DOC 44 kb)
13277_2015_3683_MOESM3_ESM.doc (46 kb)
Supporting Table 2 (DOC 45 kb)
13277_2015_3683_MOESM4_ESM.doc (44 kb)
Supporting Table 3 (DOC 43 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bin Zhang
    • 1
  • Bo Cheng
    • 1
  • Feng-Sheng Li
    • 1
  • Jian-Hua Ding
    • 1
  • Ying-Ying Feng
    • 1
  • Guang-Zuan Zhuo
    • 1
  • Hua-Feng Wei
    • 2
  • Ke Zhao
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Colo-Rectal Disease SurgeryThe Second Artillery General HospitalBeijingChina
  2. 2.Cancer Center LabChinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital & Beijing Key Laboratory of Cell Engineering & AntibodyBeijingChina

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