Immunohistochemical detection of telomerase reverse transcriptase in colorectal adenocarcinoma and benign colonic mucosa

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Human Pathology








Cancer; Colon; Immunohistochemistry; Prognosis; Telomerase; TRT


Telomerase activity (TA) is increased in human cancers and cell lines and is thought to contribute to their immortality. High TA has been found to correlate with aggressive tumor behavior. The aim of this study was to determine whether increased TA in colorectal carcinoma (CRC) correlates with survival. Formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue sections from 82 CRC and 6 cases of benign colon with diverticulosis were immunohistochemically stained for telomerase reverse transcriptase (TRT) using the immunoperoxidase method. The percentage of positive nuclei was determined for each case. Survival analysis was performed using the Kaplan-Meier method. TRT immunoreactivity was always nuclear. In normal colonic mucosa, TRT immunoreactivity was detected in the bottom of crypts. However, in normal colon adjacent to CRC, telomerase immunoreactivity was detected throughout the length of the crypts, including the upper third, and frequently in the surface epithelium. Telomerase immunoreactivity in more than 25% of the cancer cell nuclei was associated with significantly poorer patient survival (P = 0.0081). We conclude that increased TA in CRC, as demonstrated by TRT immunostaining, is associated with poorer survival, and that TA is present in normal colonic mucosa and is increased in colonic mucosa near CRC. Additional studies with larger patient samples and multivariate analysis are needed to determine whether TRT expression is an independent prognostic factor in CRC. Copyright 2002, Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.

This document is currently not available here.