Assessment of apoptosis by M30 immunoreactivity and the correlation with morphological criteria in normal colorectal mucosa, adenomas and carcinomas

JJ Koornstra, FEM Rijcken, S de Jong, H Hollema, EGE de Vries, JH Kleibeuker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: To investigate the monoclonal antibody M30 for the assessment of apoptosis in colorectal tissues. Although Terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase mediated nick end labelling (TUNEL) and in-situ end labelling (ISEL) are the methods most often used to demonstrate and quantify apoptosis in histological tissue sections, the interpretation and specificity of these techniques have been controversial. Immunohistochemistry using the monoclonal antibody M30 that recognizes caspase-cleaved cytokeratin 18 is considered to be a promising alternative but has yet to be validated against a generally accepted standard.

Methods and results: Paraffin sections of normal colonic mucosa (n = 30), normal mucosa obtained from resection margins from carcinomas (n = 30), colorectal adenomas (n = 84) and carcinomas (n = 40) were studied. Apoptosis of epithelial cells was assessed by M30 immunoreactivity and morphological criteria and expressed as a proportion of the total number of cells counted (apoptotic index). Mean apoptotic indices using M30 were 0.18 +/- 0.04% in normal mucosa, 0.42 +/- 0.04% in adenomas and 1.97 +/- 0.24% in carcinomas. Using morphological criteria, these indices were 0.23 +/- 0.03%, 0.62 +/- 0.06% and 1.78 +/- 0.19%, respectively. Apoptotic counts were higher in normal mucosa obtained from resection margins than in genuinely normal mucosa using the M30 antibody. Apoptotic indices obtained by M30 immunoreactivity and morphological criteria were positively correlated (r = 0.71, P <0.01).

Conclusion: Assessment of apoptotic cells by M30 immunoreactivity correlates well with morphological criteria. Apoptotic indices increase in the course of the adenoma-carcinoma sequence. Apoptosis in normal mucosa obtained from resection margins differs from genuinely normal mucosa necessitating caution when interpreting studies of apoptosis in normal colonic mucosa. Our findings support the use of the M30 method in the study of apoptosis in colorectal tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2004


  • apoptosis
  • colorectal carcinogenesis
  • adenoma
  • carcinoma
  • M30
  • cytokeratin 18
  • C-MYC

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