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Ten paired samples of primary human colorectal carcinoma and adjacent non-neoplastic mucosa were analysed for total glutathione S-transferase (GST) activities as determined by 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene assays. These tissues were also investigated for the expression of acidic (pi), basic (alpha) and neutral (mu) GSTs using Western blotting procedures and immunohistochemical staining. For each of the paired samples examined the total GST activity was higher in tumour than in adjacent non-neoplastic mucosa. Western blotting, using an antibody against acidic GST also showed strong immunoreactivity in all the samples with more intense reactions in tumour compared to mucosa in nine out of the ten paired samples. Low levels of basic GST were also expressed in all samples of tumour and mucosa. Neutral GST was not detectable in two samples of tumour and corresponding mucosa, but low levels of expression were demonstrated in the remaining eight. Immunohistochemical staining for acidic GST showed a dark brown reaction in all tumour cells; in non-neoplastic mucosa there was positive immunoreactivity for epithelial cells situated deep within the crypts and a negative reaction for surface epithelial cells. Immunohistochemical staining for basic GST was negative except for one sample of tumour and two of mucosa. Neutral GST was expressed only in two samples of tumour and two samples of mucosa. We therefore conclude that there is enhanced expression of GSTs, acidic GST being the predominant form, in tumour compared to normal mucosa, in keeping with a role for GSTs in colonic carcinogenesis and acquired or innate drug resistance.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





13 - 17


Blotting, Western, Colorectal Neoplasms, Glutathione Transferase, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Intestinal Mucosa