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Open Access Research article

The co-expression of functional gastric proteins in dynamic gastric diseases and its clinical significance

Qian Xu12, Li-ping Sun12, Ben-gang Wang3, Jing-wei Liu12, Ping Li12, Cai-yun He12 and Yuan Yuan12*

Author Affiliations

1 Tumor Etiology and Screening Department of Cancer Institute and General Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University, North Nanjing Street 155#, Heping District, Shenyang 110001, People’s Republic of China

2 Key Laboratory of Cancer Etiology and Prevention, (China Medical University), Liaoning Provincial Education Department, Shenyang 110001, People’s Republic of China

3 Department 1 of General Surgery in General Surgery Institute, The First Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang 110001, China

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BMC Clinical Pathology 2013, 13:21  doi:10.1186/1472-6890-13-21

Published: 9 August 2013



Pepsinogen C (PGC) and mucin1 (MUC1) are important physiologically functional gastric proteins; Mucin2 (MUC2) is an “ectopic” functional protein in intestinal metaplasia of gastric mucosa. We analyzed the co-expression of the above-mentioned three proteins in dynamic gastric diseases {superficial gastritis (SG)-atrophic gastritis (AG)--gastric cancer (GC)} as well as different histological types of gastric cancer in order to find molecular phenotypes of gastric cancer and precancerous disease and further explore the potential co-function of PGC, MUC1 and MUC2 in the occurrence and development of gastric cancer.


The SG-AG-GC sequence was 57-57-70 cases in this case–control study, respectively. Different histological types of GC were 28 cases of highly and moderately differentiated aden ocarcinoma (HMDA)、30 of poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma (PDA) and 12 of mucinous adenocarcinoma (MA) or signet ring cell carcinoma (SRCC). PGC, MUC1 and MUC2 expression in situ were detected in all 184 cases using immunohistochemistry.


Both PGC and MUC1 had a significantly decreased expression in GC than in SG and AG (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.01, respectively); While MUC2 had a significant increased expression in AG than in SG and GC (P < 0.0001). Seven phenotypes of PGC, MUC1 and MUC2 co-expression were found in which PGC+/MUC1+/MUC2- phenotype took 94.7%(54/57) in SG group; PGC+/MUC1+/MUC2+ and PGC-/MUC1+/MUC2+ phenotype took 43.9% (25/57) and 52.6% (30/57) in AG; the phenotypes in GC group appeared variable; extraordinarily, PGC-/MUC1-/MUC2+ phenotype took 100% (6/6) in MA or SRCC group and had a statistical significance compared with others (P < 0.05).


Phenotypes of PGC, MUC1 and MUC2 co-expression in dynamic gastric diseases are variable. In SG group it always showed PGC+/MUC1+/MUC2- phenotype and AG group showed two phenotypes (PGC+/MUC1+/MUC2+ and PGC-/MUC1+/MUC2+); the phenotypes in GC group appeared variable but the phenotype of PGC-/MUC1-/MUC2+ may be a predictive biomarker for diagnosing MA or SRCC, or distinguishing histological MA or SRCC from tubular adenocarcinoma accompanied by mucinous secretion or signet ring cell scattered distribution.

Pepsinogen C(PGC); Mucin1(MUC1); Mucin2 (MUC2); Immunohistochemistry; Gastric cancer; Functional proteins