Volume 44 (2004) Issue 8 Pages 402-407
Cadherins are cell-surface glycoproteins that mediate Ca2+-dependent, homophilic cell-cell adhesion. The classical cadherins, E- and N-cadherins, bind to beta-catenin, the lining protein. Dysfunctional expression of these factors seems to be related to tumor invasion and metastasis. This study examined the relationship between changes in E- and N-cadherins, and catenin expression, and biological behavior in medulloblastomas and atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors. Specimens of 13 medulloblastomas and two atypical teratoma/rhabdoid tumors were collected and stained immunohistochemically to detect E- and N-cadherins, and beta-catenin. None of the medulloblastomas were immunoreactive for E-cadherin, but both atypical teratoma/rhabdoid tumors were immunoreactive for E-cadherin at the cell-cell borders where epithelial differentiation occurred. In contrast, N-cadherin and beta-catenin were present at the cell-cell borders in 12 of the 13 medulloblastomas and both atypical teratoma/rhabdoid tumors. Nuclear beta-catenin staining was not present in the medulloblastomas or atypical teratoma/rhabdoid tumors. There was no significant difference in the Ki-67 staining index between patients with medulloblastomas showing high and low immunoreactivity for N-cadherin and beta-catenin. Moreover, immunoreactivity for N-cadherin and beta-catenin increased with dissemination in the medulloblastomas. Low immunoreactivity in medulloblastomas tended to be associated with a better prognosis. These results suggest that expression of E-cadherin is useful for the differential diagnosis of atypical teratoma/rhabdoid tumor and medulloblastoma, and the expression of N-cadherin or beta-catenin may be related to the biological behavior of medulloblastomas.