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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Human Pathology Volume 41, Issue 1, January 2010, Pages 123-128. The published version is available at DOI: 10.1016/j.humpath.2009.07.009. Copyright © Elsevier Inc.


Guanylyl cyclase C, a receptor for bacterial diarrheagenic enterotoxins, is expressed selectively by intestinal epithelium and is an endogenous downstream target of CDX2. The expression of Guanylyl cyclase C is preserved throughout the adenoma/carcinoma sequence in the colorectum. Detection of Guanylyl cyclase C expression by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction is currently being validated as a technique to identify occult lymph node metastases in patients with colorectal cancer and for circulating cells in the blood for postoperative surveillance. Although Guanylyl cyclase C is widely expressed by well-differentiated colorectal cancer, its expression in poorly differentiated colorectal cancer has not been evaluated. A tissue microarray was created from 69 archival specimens including 44 poorly differentiated, 15 undifferentiated or medullary, and 10 signet ring cell colorectal carcinomas. Matched normal colonic mucosa was used as a positive control. Immunohistochemical staining for Guanylyl cyclase C and CDX2 was evaluated as positive or negative based on at least a 10% extent of staining. Of the 69 tumor samples, 75%, 47%, and 90% of the poorly differentiated, medullary, and signet ring cell tumors were positive for Guanylyl cyclase C and 75%, 40% and 90% of these subsets were positive for CDX2, respectively. There was excellent correlation between Guanylyl cyclase C and CDX2 expression on a case-per-case basis (P < .0001). There was also a statistically significant difference in the Guanylyl cyclase C staining pattern between medullary carcinomas and poorly differentiated, not otherwise specified (P = .05). Immunopositivity for Guanylyl cyclase C was greater than 95% in a separately stained microarray series of well/moderately differentiated colorectal carcinomas. In conclusion, Guanylyl cyclase C expression is lost in a quarter of poorly differentiated and half of undifferentiated colorectal carcinomas. Therefore, the utility of Guanylyl cyclase C expression as a diagnostic marker for colorectal carcinoma may be questionable in poorly differentiated colorectal neoplasms.

Table 1_Clinicopathologic Characteristics of 72 Cases of Colonic Carcinoma.doc (32 kB)
Clinicopathologic Characteristics of 72 Cases of Colonic Carcinoma.

Table 2_Positive staining with CDX2 and GCC in subtypes of colorectal carcinomas.doc (24 kB)
Positive staining with CDX2 and GCC in subtypes of colorectal carcinomas.

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Figure 1

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Figure 2

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Figure 3

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