British journal of cancer

Prognostic significance of CD44 variant 2 upregulation in colorectal cancer.

PMID 24921913


CD133 and CD44 are putative cancer stem cell (CSC) markers in colorectal cancer (CRC). However, their clinical significance is currently unclear. Here, we evaluated primary CRC cell isolates to determine the significance of several CSC markers, including CD133 and CD44, as predictors of tumourigenesis and prognosis. CD133- and CD44-positive cells from fresh clinical samples of 77 CRCs were selected by flow cytometric sorting and evaluated for tumourigenicity following subcutaneous transplantation into NOD/SCID mice. Cancer stem cell marker expression was examined in both xenografts and a complementary DNA library compiled from 167 CRC patient samples. CD44(+), CD133(+) and CD133(+)CD44(+) sub-populations were significantly more tumourigenic than the total cell population. The clinical samples expressed several transcript variants of CD44. Variant 2 was specifically overexpressed in both primary tumours and xenografts in comparison with the normal mucosa. A prognostic assay using qRT-PCR showed that the CD44v2(high) group (n=84, 5-year survival rate (5-OS): 0.74) had a significantly worse prognosis (P=0.041) than the CD44v2(low) group (n=83, 5-OS: 0.88). CD44 is an important CSC marker in CRC patients. Furthermore, CRC patients with high expression of CD44v2 have a poorer prognosis than patients with other CD44 variants.