The distribution of basement membrane components, type‐IV collagen and laminin, was studied immunohistochemically in human samples of normal, hyperplastic, dysplastic and carcinomatous esophageal tissue. The expression of basement membrane components in normal, hyperplastic, and mildly and moderately dysplastic mucosa was characterized by a thick, continuous and linear staining pattern. In severe dysplasia and carcinoma in situ, the basement membrane was thinner and occasionally discontinuous. The distribution of basement membrane in invasive carcinomas varied greatly; well‐differentiated, cohesive tumors had a basement membrane, however, poorly‐differentiated tumors showing irregular cords, or individual cell infiltration, lacked this membrane at the tumor‐stromal interface. Many moderately‐differentiated tumors showed probable immature assembly of basement membrane components. The expression of basement membrane was also influenced by the extent of stromal inflammation. The absence or presence (staining pattern) of basement membrane components in esophageal squamous‐cell carcinoma did not correlate with the survival rate, but did correlate with the histologic differentiation of epithelial organization.
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