Mucin expression patterns in histological grades of colonic cancers in Ghanaian population
Introduction: Myriad roles of mucins in normal tissues have been well documented, including lubrication of the epithelial surfaces; protection from physical damage; facilitation in cell-cell signaling and suppression of inflammatory activity. Pathological expression of mucins has been noted in cancer development and progression. This study sought to identify and quantify the types of mucins produced during various histological grades of colon cancer and to assess the diagnostic significance. Methods: Formalin fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue blocks, comprising three (3) normal colon and twenty-two (22) colon cancer tissues, were retrieved from the archives of the histopathology department of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. They were stained with Haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) for diagnosis and grading of tumours. Tissues were pre-digested with diastase and stained with Alcian blue (pH 2.5)/Periodic Acid Schiff to characterize the mucin variants present. Results: Our findings indicated that normal colonic tissues expressed exceptionally high amount of acid mucin and low amount of neutral mucin. However, there was a general decrease in mucin expression in colon cancers compared to normal colon tissues. Additional findings suggested that as cancer progresses from low grade to high grade of adenocarcinoma of the colon, there was generally a considerable decrease in the acid mucin production and an increase in the neutral mucin expression. In contrast, a sizeable subpopulation of high-grade adenocarcinomas of colon showed a rather opposite mucin expression pattern- increase in acid mucin and a decrease in neutral mucin. Conclusion: As colonic cancer progresses, there are corresponding changes in the mucin types and content such that there are decrease in acid mucin and increase in neutral mucin expressions.