Linitis plastica pathophysiology
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It is thought that linitis plastica is generally a sporadic disease that may be inherited as a result of abnormal molecular pathways (Beta catenin/Wnt signaling) that causes defective intracellular adhesions.
- In diffuse type gastric cancer, the cells experience a loss of expression for cell adhesion protein E-cadherin.
- The E-cadherin gene (CDH1) codes for a transmembrane cellular adhesion protein that provides a tail that adheres to other cells.
- The tail interacts with catenins in the neighbouring cell and forms a cell to cell complex in what is known as Beta catenin/Wnt signaling.
- The loss of these cellular interactions leads to the formation of cancerous cells that trigger a stromal reaction leading to diffuse schirrous (fibrous) changes.
- Linitis plastica is transmitted in an autosomal dominant pattern in hereditary diffuse gastric cancer.
- Genes involved in the pathogenesis of linitis plastica include CDH1 gene, located on chromosome 16q22.1, which codes for the E-cadherin protein.
- The development of linitis plastica is the result of germline truncating mutations spread over several exons.
- Consequently, the second allele coding for E-cadherin is inactivated in a two-hit theoretical manner.
- Mutations include:
- Women with diffuse type gastric cancer are also at an increased risk of lobular breast cancer.
- Susceptibility to diffuse gastric cancer may also be linked to inherited polymorphisms in the PSCA (prostate stem cell antigen) gene, which is possibly involved in regulating gastric epithelial cell proliferation.
- On gross pathology, a thickened, rigid, and leather-like stomach wall is a characteristic finding of linitis plastica.
- Linitis plastica may appear as plaques of fibrosis, which give the appearance of a segmental infiltration with a lack of distensibility.
On microscopic histopathological analysis, tumor cells are seen invading surrounding tissue, with no glandular formation and abundant mucin that push the nucleus to one side producing what is known as a signet ring cell. Signet ring cells are a characteristic finding of linitis plastica.
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