L1 is a cell adhesion molecule expressed at the invasive front of colorectal tumors with an important role in metastasis. The aim of the present study was to determine L1 protein expression in a large cohort of colorectal cancer patients and its impact on early metastatic spread and survival. A total of 375 patients that underwent surgical treatment for colorectal cancer were chosen retrospectively. A tissue microarray was constructed of 576 tissue samples from these patients and analyzed by immunohistochemistry with a monoclonal antibody against human L1 (UJ127). Lymph node and bone marrow micrometastasis were assessed with monoclonal antibodies Ber-EP4 and pancytokeratin A45-B/B3, respectively. Associations between L1 expression and lymph node, bone marrow micrometastasis and survival were investigated with Fisher's, log-rank test and Cox multivariate analysis. All statistical tests were two-sided. L1 was detected in a subset of 48 (13%) of 375 patients examined. Analysis of L1 expression and survival revealed a significantly worse outcome for L1-positive patients by log-rank test (P<0.05). Multivariate Cox regression analysis showed the strongest independent prognostic impact of L1 expression (P<0.05). Fisher's test revealed a significant association of L1 expression and presence of disseminated tumor cells in lymph nodes and bone marrow (P<0.05). L1 is a powerful prognostic marker for patients that undergo complete surgical resection. It may have a role in early metastatic spread, as L1 is associated with micrometastases to both the lymph nodes and bone marrow. Thus, L1 should be explored further as a target for adjuvant therapy for micrometastatic disease.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Colorectal cancer
- L1 cell adhesion molecule