Gastric and intestinal phenotypic expression in 37 surgically obtained primary signet ring cell carcinomas, five of their metastases to lymph nodes, and three signet ring cell carcinomas transplanted into nude mice were determined by biochemical, mucin, histochemical, and ultrastructural studies. Crude extracts of cancer tissues were used for measurements of pepsinogen isozymes, sucrase, aminopeptidase (microsomal), and alkaline phosphatase. Histochemical staining of mucin by paradoxical concanavalin A, the galactose oxidase-Schiff sequence and sialidase-galactose oxidase-Schiff, and the periodate-borohydride technique/potassium hydroxide/periodic acid-Schiff procedure was performed. The procedures allowed clear definition of pyloric gland, surface mucous, small and large intestinal goblet, and intestinal absorptive cell types. Of 40 specimens examined, 19 consisted entirely of gastric-type cells, and three entirely of intestinal-type cells. The others consisted of mixtures of gastric and intestinal-type cells. The observed high incidence of intestinal-type cells in signet ring cell carcinomas suggested that intestinal-type cells develop independently from intestinal metaplasia within signet ring cell carcinomas (diffuse-type gastric cancers), which probably originate from nonmetaplastic gastric mucosa.

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This work was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid for Cancer Research from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture of Japan.

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