Background: Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) has a diverse functional repertoire, involved in the innate immune response as well as cell growth and differentiation. Expression has been linked to malignant disease development and progression.
Methods: Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin expression was assessed immunohistochemically in 98 colorectal neoplastic lesions (52 cancer polyps (CaPs) and 46 sporadic adenoma/adjacent normal mucosa paired specimens) to investigate association with adenoma progression and early colorectal carcinogenesis.
Results: Within CaPs, all adenomatous and carcinomatous epithelium expressed NGAL, with 92% (43 out of 47) and 58% (19 out of 33) epithelial positivity, respectively, as well as positive stromal cell expression. This was significantly increased compared with normal mucosal epithelium (P=0.0001). Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin positivity was also identified in sporadic low-grade adenomas, in both the epithelial and stromal compartments as compared with adjacent normal mucosa (P=0.0001 and 0.0002), and this increased along with adenoma size >1 cm (P=0.03).
Conclusion: Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin is expressed by the majority of human neoplastic colorectal lesions. This phenotypic switch occurs at an early stage in neoplastic progression with clear differential expression between normal mucosa and adenomatous polyps, rather than further downstream in disease progression at the adenoma-carcinoma transformation. Thus, NGAL expression is not a useful biomarker for determining disease progression from adenomatous to malignant colorectal neoplasia.
- colorectal cancer
- adenoma-carcinoma sequence
- cancer progression