BACKGROUND - Dysplasia and adenocarcinoma developing in Barrett's esophagus (BE) are not always endoscopically identifiable. Molecular markers are needed for early recognition of these focal lesions and to identify patients at increased risk of developing adenocarcinoma. The aim of the current study was to correlate increased telomerase activity (TA) with dysplasia and adenocarcinoma occurring in the setting of BE.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - Esophageal mucosal biopsies were obtained from patients (N=62) who had pathologically verified BE at esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). Mucosal biopsies were also obtained from the gastric fundus as controls. Based on histopathology, patients were divided into three groups: 1) BE without dysplasia (n=24); 2) BE with dysplasia (both high grade and low grade, n=13); and 3) BE with adenocarcinoma (n=25). TA was measured by a PCR-based assay (TRAPeze® ELISA Telomerase Detection Kit). Statistical analyses were performed using one-way ANOVA and post-hoc Bonferroni testing.
RESULTS - TA was significantly higher in biopsies of BE with dyplasia and BE with adenocarcinoma than in BE without dysplasia. Subgroup analyses did not reveal any significant correlations between TA and patient age, length of BE, or presence of gastritis.
CONCLUSIONS - Telomerase activity in esophageal mucosal biopsies of BE may constitute a useful biomarker for the early detection of esophageal dysplasia and adenocarcinoma.