Cancer–testis (CT) antigens are attractive tumor antigens for cancer immunotherapy. They comprise a group of proteins normally expressed in germ cells and aberrantly activated in a variety of human cancers. The protein expression of eight cancer–testis antigens [MAGEA, NY-ESO-1, GAGE, MAGEC1 (CT7), MAGEC2 (CT10), CT45, SAGE1, and NXF2] was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 61 esophageal carcinomas (40 adenocarcinoma and 21 squamous cell carcinoma), 50 gastric carcinomas (34 diffuse and 16 intestinal type), and 141 colorectal carcinomas. The highest frequency of expression was found in esophageal squamous cell carcinomas: Positive staining for MAGEA, CT45, CT7, SAGE1, GAGE, NXF2, NY-ESO-1, and CT10 was observed in 57%, 38%, 33%, 33%, 29%, 29%, 19%, and 14% of squamous cell carcinomas, respectively. Similar staining patterns were observed in squamous dysplasias. Expression frequencies of cancer–testis antigens were seen in 2% to 24% of gastroesophageal adenocarcinomas and were not significantly different between adenocarcinomas of the stomach versus the esophagus, or between diffuse and intestinal types of gastric adenocarcinomas. Colorectal cancers did not express NY-ESO-1, CT7, CT10, or GAGE, and only infrequently expressed SAGE1 (0.7%) MAGEA (1.4%), CT45 (3.5%), and NXF2 (8.5%). We conclude that cancer–testis antigens are frequently expressed in esophageal squamous neoplasms. Although cancer–testis antigens are generally considered to be expressed later in tumor progression, they are found in squamous dysplasias, suggesting a potential diagnostic role for cancer–testis antigens in the evaluation of premalignant squamous lesions. Cancer Immunol Res; 1–7. ©2013 AACR.
- Received August 13, 2013.
- Revision received October 11, 2013.
- Accepted November 5, 2013.
- ©2013 American Association for Cancer Research.