OBJECTIVES: The value of Barrett's esophagus (BE) surveillance based on the histological diagnosis of low-grade dysplasia (LGD) remains debated given the lack of adequate risk stratification. The aim of this study was to evaluate the predictive value (PV) of SOX2 expression for neoplastic progression in BE patients.
METHODS: We conducted a case-control study within a prospective cohort of 720 BE patients. Patients with neoplastic progression, defined as the development of high-grade dysplasia (HGD) or esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC), were classified as cases and patients without neoplastic progression were classified as controls. SOX2 expression was determined by immunohistochemistry in more than 12,000 biopsies from 635 patients; these results were combined with our previous p53 immunohistochemical data.
RESULTS: Nondysplastic BE showed homogeneous nuclear staining for SOX2, whereas SOX2 was progressively lost in dysplastic BE. Loss of SOX2 was seen in only 2% of biopsy series without dysplasia, in contrast to 28% in LGD and 67% in HGD/EAC. Loss of SOX2 expression was associated with an increased risk of neoplastic progression in BE patients after adjusting for gender, age, BE length, and esophagitis (adjusted relative risk 4.8; 95% CI 3.2-7.0). The positive PV for neoplastic progression increased from 16% with LGD alone to 56% with concurrent loss of SOX2 and aberrant p53 expression.
CONCLUSIONS: SOX2 expression is lost during transition from nondysplastic BE to HGD/EAC, and it is associated with an increased risk of neoplastic progression. The highest PV is achieved by concurrent loss of SOX2 and aberrant p53 expression in BE patients with LGD. The use of these markers has the potential to significantly improve risk stratification of Barrett surveillance.