The FHIT gene, encompassing the FRA3B fragile site at chromosome 3p14.2, is a candidate tumor suppressor gene involved in multiple tumors, including esophageal carcinoma. We analyzed Fhit expression using an immunohistochemical method in invasive carcinoma, carcinoma in situ (CIS) and dysplasia, in paraffin sections of 75 esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCs) to further elucidate the role of Fhit protein in esophageal carcinogenesis. In addition, we also examined whether Fhit expression correlated with p53 expression and apoptosis. Compared to adjacent normal mucosa, significant loss or reduction of Fhit expression was noted in 67 of 75 (89.3%) invasive ESCs, in 13 of 19 (68.4%) CIS lesions, and in 10 of 23 (43.5%) dysplastic lesions. There was a progressive loss or reduction of Fhit expression with progressive increases in the severity of histopathological changes (p < 0.001). However, there was no association between Fhit expression and clinicopathological findings, including tumor stage, lymph node metastasis, or overall survival. Moreover, Fhit expression was not significantly associated with p53 expression and apoptosis. These results indicate that abnormal Fhit expression is a common event in the early stage of ESC development and may occur independently of p53 expression and apoptosis mechanisms.

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