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Mucosal polyamine metabolism in the columnar lined oesophagus.
  1. M R Gray,
  2. H M Wallace,
  3. H Goulding,
  4. J Hoffman,
  5. W E Kenyon,
  6. A N Kingsnorth
  1. Department of Surgery, University of Liverpool.


    Mucosal ornithine decarboxylase activity and polyamine content has been proposed as a possible marker for malignant potential in gastrointestinal mucosa. Polyamine content and histological findings were examined in 107 pairs of endoscopic biopsy specimens taken from gastric fundus, fundic and specialised Barrett's oesophagus and Barrett's adenocarcinoma. The content of putrescine (median nmol/mg protein, range) the primary product of ornithine decarboxylase showed a progressive increase from gastric fundus (0.41, 0.15-1.5); fundic (0.45, 0.01-4.08); specialised Barrett's oesophagus (0.54, 0.01-2.0); dysplastic columnar lined oesophagus (0.56, 0.31-3.1) to adenocarcinoma (1.23, 0.29-8.98). Adenocarcinoma putrescine content was significantly greater than gastric fundus (p < 0.018) and fundic (p < 0.03). Mucosal spermine, spermidine, and total polyamine values were greater in gastric fundus than fundic, specialised Barrett's oesophagus, and dysplastic columnar lined oesophagus (all p < 0.001) suggesting failure to further metabolise putrescine to its higher polyamines in the metaplastic epithelium. Although metaplastic columnar lined oesophagus shows significant differences in polyamine metabolic activity from the stomach the important distinction between specialised and dysplastic columnar lined oesophagus cannot be made by measuring the polyamine content.

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