Immunohistochemical analysis of the expression of cancer-associated fibroblast markers in esophageal cancer with and without neoadjuvant therapy

José A. Galván, Julia Wiprächtiger, Julia Slotta-Huspenina, Marcus Feith, Katja Ott, Dino Kröll, Christian A. Seiler, Rupert Langer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Esophageal carcinoma (EC) is one of the most aggressive human malignancies with high rates of resistance to conventional anticancer treatment. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are an important part of the tumor microenvironment and associated with tumor progression. COL11A1, SPARC, and CD90 have been identified as rather specific CAF markers, with COL11A1 expression particularly shown to influence response to chemotherapy. We investigated the impact of CAFs in esophageal cancer with a special focus on response to neoadjuvant treatment (nTX). Two collections of esophageal carcinomas were investigated: 164 cases treated with primary resection and 256 cases receiving nTX before resection. The expression of CAF markers was determined using next-generation tissue microarray (ngTMA®) technology and immunohistochemistry. The presence of COL11A1 and SPARC in fibroblasts within both primary resected cases and nTX-treated cases was associated with unfavorable clinicopathological variables such as higher (y)pT category and lymphatic invasion (p<0.001 each). The presence of COL11A1-positive CAFs was associated with worse overall survival in primary resected cases (HR: 2.162, p = 0.004, CI 95% 1.275–3.686). While in tumors showing regression after nTX, COL11A1-positive CAFs were detected less frequently, SPARC-positive CAFs were enriched after nTX, in both responding and non-responding patients (p < 0.001). Our results support the concept of CAFs as an important factor of tumor promotion and maintenance in EC. The population of CAFs increases with tumor progression and decreases, partly depending on the subtype, after regression following nTX. CAFs may serve as potential target for future therapeutic approaches for these highly aggressive tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-734
Number of pages10
JournalVirchows Archiv
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • CD90
  • COL11A1
  • Cancer-associated fibroblasts
  • Chemoresistance
  • Esophagus


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