Barrett's esophagus is an established precursor to esophageal adenocarcinoma. Whereas most patients with Barrett's esophagus do not progress to adenocarcinoma, patients with progression have a poor prognosis. Current management strategies use frequent endoscopic surveillance and multiple nontargeted biopsies. This approach, however, may miss dysplastic areas. Furthermore, given the relatively high prevalence of Barrett's esophagus but low incidence of progression, this invasive and expensive approach has not been shown to be cost-effective. Thus, there is intense interest in using biomarkers to identify patients at increased risk of progressing to adenocarcinoma. This has included examination of mutations in the tumor suppressor gene, p53. In this report, we discuss the biology of p53 and the incidence of p53 mutations in Barrett's esophagus and review relevant studies regarding the ability of p53 to predict neoplastic progression. Additionally, we report our results of the expression of p53 by immunohistochemistry in a group of 18 patients that have undergone endoscopic esophageal mucosal resection for dysplasia. Although the presence of a p53 mutation increases the risk of neoplastic progression, the absence of this mutation does not abrogate the risk. Continuing efforts, therefore, are needed to define and prospectively validate a panel of biomarkers to risk-stratify patients with Barrett's esophagus. Determination of p53 mutational status may ultimately be a component of such a panel.
ASJC Scopus subject areas