Oncol Rep. 2020 Aug 11. doi: 10.3892/or.2020.7729. Online ahead of print.
As the major component of the tumor matrix, collagen greatly influences tumor invasion and prognosis. The present study compared the remodeling of collagen and collagenase in 56 patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) using Sirius red stain and immunohistochemistry, exploring the relationship between collagen remodeling and the prognosis of CRC. Weak or strong changes in collagen fiber arrangement in birefringence were observed. With the exception of a higher density, weak changes equated to a
similar arrangement in normal collagen, while strong changes facilitated cross‑linking into bundles. Compared with normal tissues, collagen I (COL I) and III (COL III) deposition was significantly increased in CRC tissues, and was positively correlated with the metastasis status. In tissues without distant metastasis, collagen IV (COL IV) levels were higher than that in normal tissues, while in tissues with distant metastasis, collagen IV expression was significantly lower. Furthermore, the expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)‑1, MMP‑2, MMP‑7, MMP‑9 and lysyl oxidase‑like 2 (LOXL2) was found to be elevated in the cancer stroma, which contributed to the hyperactive remodeling of collagen. The association between collagen‑related genes and the occurrence and prognosis of CRC were analyzed using biometric databases. The results indicated that patients with upregulated expression of a combination of coding genes for collagen and collagenase exhibited poorer overall survival times. The coding genes COL1A1‑2, COL3A1, COL4A3, COL4A6 and MMP2 may therefore be used as biomarkers to predict the prognosis of patients with CRC. Furthermore, the results of Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analysis suggest that collagen may promote tumor development by activating platelets. Collectively, the abnormal collagen remodeling, including associated protein and coding genes is associated with the tumorigenesis and metastasis, affecting the prognosis of patients with CRC.