Research Papers:

Epithelial but not stromal expression of collagen alpha-1(III) is a diagnostic and prognostic indicator of colorectal carcinoma

Xiao-Qing Wang, Zu-Xiong Tang, Dong Yu, Shu-Jian Cui, Ying-Hua Jiang, Qian Zhang, Jie Wang, Peng-Yuan Yang and Feng Liu _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:8823-8838. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6815

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Xiao-Qing Wang1,2,*, Zu-Xiong Tang5,*, Dong Yu6,*, Shu-Jian Cui4, Ying-Hua Jiang1, Qian Zhang1, Jie Wang1, Peng-Yuan Yang1,2 and Feng Liu1,3

1 Department of Systems Biology for Medicine of School of Basic Medical Sciences, and Institutes of Biomedical Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

2 Department of Chemistry, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

3 Minhang Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

4 College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Physiology of Jiangsu Province, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China

5 Department of General Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou, China

6 Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China

* These authors have contributed equally to the work

Correspondence to:

Feng Liu, email:

Peng-Yuan Yang, email:

Keywords: colorectal cancer, COL3A1, prognosis, protein marker

Received: June 30, 2015 Accepted: December 12, 2015 Published: January 03, 2016


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in males and the second in females worldwide with very poor prognosis. Collagen alpha-1(III) (COL3A1) gene, encoding an extracellular matrix protein, is upregulated in human cancers. Here, we revealed that COL3A1 was increased in CRC by analysis of five Oncomine gene expression datasets (n = 496). Immunohistochemistry analysis of a tissue microarray (n = 90) demonstrated that cancer epithelial but not stromal COL3A1 was significantly upregulated comparing with the normal counterparts. High COL3A1 mRNA and/or protein expression was accompanied with high stage, T stage, Dukes stage, grade and older age, as well as smoking and recurrence status. Upregulated COL3A1 predicted poor overall (p = 0.003) and disease-free (p = 0.025) survival. Increased epithelial but not stromal COL3A1 protein predicted worse outcome (p = 0.03). Older patients (age>65) with high COL3A1 had worse survival than younger (age≤65) with high COL3A1. Plasma COL3A1 was increased in CRC patients (n = 86) by 5.4 fold comparing with healthy individuals, enteritis and polyps patients. Plasma COL3A1 had an area under curve (AUC) of 0.92 and the best sensitivity/specificity of 98.8%/69.1%. While plasma CEA had a poorer prediction power (AUC = 0.791, sensitivity/selectivity = 70.2%/73.0%). Older patients (age≥60) had higher plasma COL3A1 than younger patients. The epithelial COL3A1 protein had an AUC of 0.975 and the best sensitivity/specificity of 95.2%/91.1%. Silencing of COL3A1 suppressed CRC cell proliferation in in vitro MTT assay and in in vivo Zebra fish xenograft model by downregulation of PI3K/AKT and WNT signaling. COL3A1 was a novel diagnosis and prognosis marker of CRC.

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