We have proposed to divide intestinal metaplasia (IM) into two categories, i.e., a mixed gastric and intestinal (GI) type, and a solely intestinal (I) type, based on the residual gastric phenotype cells. The GI-mixed-type IM can be identified by the presence of both cells with either gastric or intestinal phenotypes in a single gland. This study is conducted to elucidate whether cells in the GI-mixed-type IM glands can simultaneously present both gastric and intestinal phenotypes. MUC5AC, MUC2, CD10 and villin expressions were investigated in 20 samples from five gastric cancer cases, directly using either AlexaFluor 488- or 568-labeled specific monoclonal antibodies and observed by fluorescent microscopy and confocal laser-scanning microscopy. GI-mixed IM glands comprise a population expressing MUC5AC and MUC2, MUC5AC and villin, and MUC5AC and CD10. MUC2 and villin expressions were reciprocally increased with decreasing MUC5AC expression, while CD10 expression was limited to cells with only a residual MUC5AC expression or no expression. These results suggest that a heterogeneous cell population with both gastric and intestinal phenotypes would develop into a single intestinal phenotype, as reflected in the progression of intestinal metaplasia from GI-mixed-type- to I-type IM-type glands.
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