Volume 31 (2010) Issue 2 Pages 105-112
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) has been generally considered as one of the most aggressive cancers with poor prognosis. Vimentin is the major protein constituent of intermediate filaments in normal and neoplastic mesenchymal cells, and has been regarded as a marker of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). However, little is known about ESCC with vimentin expression as a marker of EMT. In this study, we analyzed vimentin expression in 129 cases of ESCC in order to elucidate whether vimentin expression is correlated with clinicopathological features and aggressive behavior of ESCC. Vimentin expression was identified in 96 of the 129 cases (74.4%). The cases with vimentin-positive carcinoma cells showed a significantly higher incidence of lymph node metastasis (P = 0.001). Carcinomas with vimentin expression were more advanced in terms of tumor status and lymphatic invasion (P = 0.001, P = 0.009, respectively), and associated with stronger stromal α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression (P < 0.001). Vimentin expression was also associated with distant metastasis, including distant node metastasis (P = 0.014). Vimentin expression in both primary and metastatic carcinomas was found in 68.6% (48/70) of the cases, while no vimentin expression in both primary and metastatic carcinomas comprised 92.3% of the cases (12/13) (P < 0.001). In conclusion, we demonstrated that vimentin expression in ESCC is an independent predictor of lymph node metastasis (multivariate analysis, P = 0.014, odds ratio: 3.314, 95% confidence interval: 1.276-8.605). In addition, vimentin expression was frequently retained in metastatic carcinoma of the lymph node.