A subset of high-grade pulmonary neuroendocrine carcinomas shows up-regulation of matrix metalloproteinase-7 associated with nuclear β-catenin immunoreactivity, independent of EGFR and HER-2 gene amplification or expression

Giuseppe Pelosi, Aldo Scarpa, Giulia Veronesi, Lorenzo Spaggiari, Barbara Del Curto, Patrick S. Moore, Patrick Maisonneuve, Angelica Sonzogni, Michele Masullo, Giuseppe Viale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Nuclear translocation of β-catenin has been correlated with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) overexpression/activation in nonsmall cell lung cancer. Less is known on β-catenin transactivation in high-grade pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors and on the status of β-catenin activating EGFR and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2) or β-catenin target genes cyclin D1 and matrix metalloproteinase-7 (MMP-7). β-catenin immunoreactivity was evaluated in 51 large-cell neuroendocrine carcinomas (LCNEC) and 45 small-cell lung carcinomas (SCLC). Nineteen cases were assessed for β-catenin gene exon 3 mutations, expression of MMP-7, and expression/gene amplification of EGFR, HER-2, and cyclin D1. β-catenin was expressed in all 96 high-grade neuroendocrine tumors, the vast majority (94%) showing >50% immunopositive cells. A disarrayed immunoreactivity, however, was commonly encountered consisting in variably altered membrane-associated patterns of staining along with progressive accumulation of cytoplasmic immunoreactivity. In LCNEC, but not in SCLC, the disarrayed patterns correlated with EGFR and HER-2 protein expression. β-catenin nuclear accumulation was found in nine tumors, including seven LCNEC and two SCLC, and was always associated with disarrayed immunoreactivity and increased MMP-7, but not cyclin D1 expression. These cases, however, did not show β-catenin gene mutations or EGFR and HER-2 gene amplification or expression. No association was found between nuclear β-catenin and any clinicopathological variable including patients' survival. The subcellular compartmentalization of β-catenin is profoundly altered in high-grade pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors. A minor subset of these tumors shows β-catenin nuclear accumulation in association with increased expression of MMP-7, but not of cyclin D1, independent of EGFR and HER-2 gene amplification or expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-977
Number of pages9
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005



  • β-catenin
  • EGFR
  • Lung
  • MMP-7
  • Neuroendocrine carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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