Royce SG, Alsop K, Haydon A, Mead L, Smith LD, Tesoriero AA, Giles GG, Jenkins MA, Hopper JL, Southey MC (2010) The role of SMAD4 in early-onset colorectal cancer. Colorectal disease : the official journal of the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland 12:213-219
OBJECTIVE: Chromosomal loss within the region of 18q and loss of SMAD4 expression have been reported to be frequent somatic events during colorectal cancer tumour progression; however, their associations with age at onset have not been widely studied. METHOD: We analysed 109 tumours from a population-based case-family study based on colorectal cancers diagnosed before the age of 45 years. These patients with early-onset colorectal cancer had been previously screened for germ-line mismatch repair gene mutations, microsatellite instability (that included the mononucleotide repeat in TGFbetaRII) and somatic k-ras mutations. We measured SMAD4 protein expression using immunohistochemistry and SMAD4 copy number using quantitative real-time PCR. RESULTS: Loss of SMAD4 protein expression was observed in 27/109 (25%) of cancers tested and was more commonly observed in rectal tumours (15/41, 36%) when compared with tumours arising in the colon (11/66, 17%) (P = 0.04). There was no association between SMAD4 protein expression and TGFbetaR11 mutation status, SMAD4 copy number, family history, MSI status, tumour stage or grade. CONCLUSION: Loss of SMAD4 expression is a common feature of early-onset colorectal tumours as it is in colorectal cancers diagnosed in other age-groups. Taken together, the molecular pathways (genetic and epigenetic) now known to be involved in early-onset colorectal cancer only explain a small proportion of the disease and require further exploration.