Experimental Oncology

British Journal of Cancer (1996) 74, 99–108. doi:10.1038/bjc.1996.322 www.bjcancer.com
Published July 1996

K-ras mutations and HLA-DR expression in large bowel adenomas

S Norheim Andersen1, J Breivik, T Løvig, GI Meling, G Gaudernack, OPF Clausen, A Schjölberg, O Fausa, F Langmark, E Lund and TO Rognum

1Institute of Forensic Medicine, National Hospital, University of Oslo, Norway



A total of 72 sporadic colorectal adenomas in 56 patients were studied for the presence of point mutations in codons 12 and 13 of the K-ras gene and for HLA-DR antigen expression related to clinicopathological variables. Forty K-ras mutations in 39 adenomas were found (54%): 31 (77%) in codon 12 and nine (23%) in codon 13. There was a strong relationship between the incidence of K-ras mutations and adenoma type, degree of dysplasia and sex. The highest frequency of K-ras mutations was seen in large adenomas of the villous type with high-grade dysplasia. Fourteen out of 15 adenomas obtained from 14 women above 65 years of age carried mutations. HLA-DR positivity was found in 38% of the adenomas, large tumours and those with high-grade dysplasia having the strongest staining. Coexpression of K-ras mutations and HLA-DR was found significantly more frequently in large and highly dysplastic adenomas, although two-way analysis of variance showing size and grade of dysplasia to be the most important variable. None of the adenomas with low-grade dysplasia showed both K-ras mutation and HLA-DR positivity (P = 0.004). K-ras mutation is recognised as an early event in colorectal carcinogenesis. The mutation might give rise to peptides that may be presented on the tumour cell surface by class II molecules, and thereby induce immune responses against neoplastic cells.