Barrett's esophagus is the transformation of normal esophageal squamous epithelium to specialized intestinal metaplasia (SIM). Among the Barrett's specialized cells, those that can develop protective mechanisms against apoptosis may have potential to become malignant. Studies have shown that overexpression of metallothionein (MT), low molecular protein that protects cells from apoptotic stimuli, appears to be associated with more advanced, highly malignant tumors. We thus investigated the relationship between MT expression and apoptosis in different stages of Barrett's carcinogenesis. Terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-digoxigenin nick end labeling and immunohistochemical dual-staining assay were performed in human biopsy samples of normal, SIM, dysplasia, and adenocarcinoma. Apoptotic index and MT expression were quantified by using an image system to analyze the converted digital data. A negative correlation between MT expression and apoptotic index was found. MT expression was significantly increased along with the histologic progression towards adenocarcinoma. This study thus suggests that MT may contribute to cytoprotection, thereby inhibiting apoptosis and leading to carcinogenesis of Barrett's esophageal cells.
- Barrett's esophagus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)