A better understanding on the development of a metastatic phenotype in colorectal cancer (CRC) is essential to help identify patients at high risk for metastasis. Therefore, we have studied the role of the CD44 family of trans-membrane glycoprotein in the process of CRC metastasis, by examining the expression of CD44s and CD44v6 in primary tumours and their metastatic lesions in 46 patients using immunohistochemistry. The expression of both CD44s and CD44v6 was significantly higher (moderate/strong) in primary tumours as compared to their metastases (p=0.008, p=0.0001, respectively). CD44s expression in metastases increased with the degree of the histological grade (p=0.009) and invasiveness of the primary tumour (p=0.002). Disease-free survival (DFS) was shorter in patients who had metastases with a strong/moderate expression of CD44s as compared to those with negative/weak expression (8.3 months vs 16.9 months p=0.221, respectively). Our finding that CD44s expression in metastatic lesions may reflect the aggressiveness of the primary tumour from which it has originated implicates an important link between the two lesions. CD44 expression may also provide valuable biological information as suggested by the observation that up-regulated CD44s expression in metastases is associated with a shorter DFS.
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Colorectal Neoplasms, Disease-Free Survival, Female, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Glycoproteins, Humans, Hyaluronan Receptors, Immunohistochemistry, Male, Neoplasm Metastasis, Neoplasms, Time Factors