Catenins are cytoplasmic proteins that play a pivotal role in cell adhesion. Conflicting results regarding the significance of their expression in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) have been reported. The expression of α-, β- and γ-catenin was examined using immunohistochemical methods in 69 samples collected from patients with ESCC who were surgically treated without any preoperative induction therapy. Reduced α-, β- and γ-catenin expression was observed in 48 (69.7%), 36 (52.2%) and 44 (63.8%) ESCC samples, respectively. According to univariate analysis, ESCC patients exhibiting the reduced expression of β-catenin (P=0.028), γ-catenin (P=0.010), α- and γ-catenin combined (P=0.047) or β- and γ-catenin combined (P=0.046) had a significantly more unfavorable rate of survival. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that the reduced expression of γ-catenin (P=0.015) as well as lymph node metastasis (P=0.015) could serve as independent prognostic indicators of unfavorable prognosis in ESCC patients. Reduced immunohistochemical expression of γ-catenin may thus prove to be a powerfull and useful predictor of prognosis in patients with ESCC.
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