Reg4 is highly expressed in gastrointestinal malignancies and acts as a mitogenic and pro-invasive factor. Our recent works suggest that Reg4 binds with CD44 and induces its proteolytic cleavage to release intra-cytoplasmic domain of CD44 (CD44ICD). The goal of this study is to demonstrate clinical significance of the Reg4-CD44/CD44ICD pathway in stage II/III colon cancer and its association with clinical parameters of aggression. We constructed a tissue microarray (TMA) of 93 stage II/III matched colon adenocarcinoma patients, 23 with recurrent disease. The TMA was immunohistochemically stained for Reg4, CD44, and CD44ICD proteins and analyzed to identify associations with tumor characteristics, recurrence and overall survival. The TMA data analysis showed a significant correlation between Reg4 and CD44 (r2 = 0.23, P = 0.028), CD44 and CD44ICD (r2 = 0.36, p = 0.0004), and Reg4 and CD44ICD (r2 = 0.45, p ≤ 0.0001). Reg4 expression was associated with larger tumor size (r2 = 0.23, p = 0.026). Although, no association was observed between Reg4, CD44, or CD44ICD expression and disease recurrence, Reg4-positive patients had a median survival of 4 years vs. 7 years for Reg4-negative patients (p = 0.04) in patients who recurred. Inhibition of the Reg4-CD44/CD44ICD pathway may be a future therapeutic target for colon cancer patients.
- Colorectal cancer