Epithelial to mesenchymal transition correlates with tumor budding and predicts prognosis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma

Yukiko Niwa, Suguru Yamada, Masahiko Koike, Mitsuro Kanda, Tsutomu Fujii, Goro Nakayama, Hiroyuki Sugimoto, Shuji Nomoto, Michitaka Fujiwara, Yasuhiro Kodera
Journal of Surgical Oncology 2014, 110 (6): 764-9

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is considered to play an important role in cancer invasion. Tumor budding is a prognostic factor in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). The aim of this study was to explore the correlation between EMT and tumor budding.

METHODS: Surgical specimens from 78 cases of ESCC resected without preoperative treatment between 2001 and 2013 were enrolled in the study. The mRNA expressions of E-cadherin and vimentin were measured in cancerous tissues using real-time PCR, and each tumor was classified into either epithelial or mesenchymal group. Tumor budding was evaluated in H&E-stained slides and divided into two groups; low-grade budding (<3) and high-grade budding (≥3).

RESULTS: The 5-year survival rate in the epithelial group was significantly higher than that in the mesenchymal group (62.0% vs. 31.5%, P = 0.021). Survival rate of patients in the low-grade budding group was significantly higher than that of patients in the high-grade budding group (75.1% vs. 25.9%, P < 0.001). High-grade tumor budding was significantly associated with the mesenchymal group (P = 0.009).

CONCLUSION: EMT was found to occur in ESCC and was significantly associated with tumor budding. Tumor budding was identified as a significant independent prognostic factor among the current population of ESCC.

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