Objective: TheMEMD gene was reported to be overexpressed in human esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), using differential display. The aim of this study was to determine the clinical significance of MEMD/ALCAM in esophageal tumorigenesis. Methods: Analysis of MEMD/ALCAM expression in esophageal tissues was carried out at protein and RNA level using immunohistochemistry and semiquantitative RT-PCR, respectively. Results: Increased MEMD/ALCAM expression was observed in 42/65 (65%) ESCCs (p = 0.000, odds ratio, OR = 3.665) and in 17/25 (68%) dysplasias (p = 0.000, OR = 4.248) compared to paired distant histologically normal esophageal tissues. Increased MEMD mRNAlevels were observed in ESCCs and dysplasias showing overexpression of MEMD/ALCAM protein. Interestingly, increased membranous MEMD/ALCAM expression was observed in dysplasias in comparison with ESCCs (p = 0.002, OR = 3.177). MEMD/ALCAM overexpression in ESCCs was associated with late clinical stage (p = 0.002, OR = 3.619), enhanced tumor invasiveness (p = 0.002, OR = 3.619), and nodal metastasis (p = 0.000, OR = 4.206). Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first report showing MEMD expression at pre-malignant stage (dysplasia), suggesting that MEMD/ALCAM expression is an early event in the development of esophageal cancer. Furthermore, in ESCCs its correlation with late clinical stage, enhanced tumor invasiveness and nodal metastasis suggests an association with aggressive tumor behavior. Our data suggest that MEMD/ALCAM may serve as a potential marker for early diagnosis, tumor invasion and nodal metastasis in ESCCs.

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