Background: The loss of E-cadherin expression and the induction of N-cadherin are known as hallmarks of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, an essential initial step in the process of metastasis in solid tumors. Although several studies have reported expressions of these cadherins in patients with multiple myeloma (MM), their clinical significance is unknown as MM cells are non-epithelial. Methods: In this study, we examined the expression of E- and N-cadherins by immunohistochemistry using bone marrow (BM) biopsy specimens from 31 newly diagnosed MM patients and in subsequent biopsy specimens from six of these. Results: Negative E-cadherin expression on BM myeloma cell membranes was significantly associated with the presence of soft-tissue masses arising from bone lesions and breaking through the cortical bone, referred to as extramedullary disease (EMD). Conclusions: Given the aggressive nature of EMD, our study suggests that screening for E-cadherin using BM immunohistochemistry is one measure that could predict the development of EMD in patients with MM.
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