Expression of gastric pyloric mucin, MUC6, in colorectal serrated polyps

Angela N. Bartley, Patricia A. Thompson, Julie A. Buckmeier, Carole Y. Kepler, Chiu Hsieh Hsu, Manuel S. Snyder, Peter Lance, Achyut Bhattacharyya, Stanley R. Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Serrated polyps of the colorectal mucosa represent a heterogeneous and controversial taxonomic category with variation in histopathological, molecular, and immunohistochemical characteristics and with an incomplete understanding of pathogenesis. A previous study reported that the expression of gastric pyloric-type mucin, MUC6, characterized sessile serrated adenomas. We therefore evaluated the expression of MUC6 in serrated polyps identified among 2502 participants in a Phase III chemoprevention trial within the Arizona Cancer Center Colorectal Cancer Prevention Trials Program and characterized the associated histopathological features and location. We carried out immunohistochemistry for MUC6 on 146 serrated lesions and 87 conventional tubular adenomas, and assessed the percentage of cells with expression and the grade of staining intensity. In all 92 hyperplastic polyps, 43 sessile serrated adenomas, and 11 traditional serrated adenomas were included. Polyps ranged in size from 1-150 mm. The association of MUC6 staining with serrated polyp category was evaluated using classification and regression tree (CART) analysis and two-sided Fisher's exact test. A total of 53% of sessile serrated adenomas (n23), 17% of hyperplastic polyps (n=16), and 18% of traditional serrated adenomas (n=2), but none of 87 tubular adenomas, expressed MUC6. Expression was limited to the lower crypts in all serrated polyps. The extent of positive staining ranged from 2-100% of crypt cells and was independent of the histopathological type. MUC6 expression had relatively high specificity for sessile serrated adenoma (82%) but low sensitivity (54%). In CART analysis, proximal location was found to be the best partitioning factor for MUC6, followed by classification as sessile serrated adenoma. We conclude that MUC6 expression is strongly associated with proximal location of serrated polyps, but only has modest utility as a tissue biomarker for sessile serrated adenoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-176
Number of pages8
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Colonic neoplasm
  • Hyperplastic polyp
  • MUC6
  • Serrated adenoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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