The expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1, CD54) was examined in 16 surgically removed colonic tumours and two colonic carcinoma cell lines. Immunohistochemistry showed a varying percentage of ICAM-1 positive colonic carcinoma cells in 9/16 tissue specimens, while normal colonic tissue (apart from a slight reactivity of endothelial cells) was not stained. The presence of the ICAM-1 molecule on the cell surface and the expression of ICAM-1 mRNA were investigated for two colonic carcinoma cell lines. It was possible to enhance the expression of ICAM-1 considerably by incubating the cells in the presence of inflammatory cytokines in HT-29 and CaCo-2 cells. The responsiveness to either interferon alpha (IFN-alpha), tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), or interleukin 1 beta (IL-1 beta) treatment was different in each cell line. Interestingly, ICAM-1 is shed by colonic carcinoma cells because soluble sICAM-1 was detected in the cell culture supernatants. In comparison with normal serum samples, the mean value of sICAM-1 in 63 samples of patients with colonic carcinoma and in 20 cases of active inflammatory bowel disease is raised about twofold. It remains to be clarified what part both forms of ICAM-1 play in the course of colonic cancer, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease.
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