Down-regulation of E-cadherin, an intercellular adhesion molecule, and up-regulation of autocrine motility factor receptor (gp78) expressions have been shown to play a role in tumor cell invasion and metastasis. Monoclonal antibodies against E-cadherin and gp78 were used to stain serial snap-frozen sections of 12 normal bladder and 83 bladder carcinoma specimens (27 noninvasive, 53 invasive, and 3 metastases). In normal urothelium, E-cadherin is expressed while gp78 is not. Positive expression of E-cadherin and negative expression of gp78 were found to be associated with a low risk of clinical progression in the superficial bladder carcinoma patient group. While reduction in E-cadherin concomitantly with an increase in gp78 expression was associated with poor prognosis, 71% of the patients (n = 30) underwent rapid cancer progression, and 32% of the patients died of cancer-related disease at a median of 2 years after initial diagnosis. Thus, it is suggested that reduction of E-cadherin expression associated with an increase in the level of gp78 in bladder cancers may define a high risk group of patients. The dual use of these two antigens may improve early diagnosis of high risk bladder cancer patients and influence treatment decisions.

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This work was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft SFB 354 (to T. O., W. B., and H. R.), the Wilhelm Sander-Stiftung (to W. B.), and in part by USPHS Grant 51714 from the National Cancer Institute and the Paul Zuckerman Support Foundation for Cancer Research (to A. R.).

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