Objectives: Colorectal carcinomas (CRCs) with a micropapillary pattern and those showing high counts of poorly differentiated clusters (PDCs) are characterized by a higher probability to develop nodal metastases and have a worse prognosis. In light of the morphologic similarity to the micropapillary component, we aimed to verify whether PDCs also display an inverted secretory pattern. Methods: The immunohistochemical expression of MUC1 and E-cadherin was assessed in a cohort of CRCs with PDCs and compared with that observed in CRCs without PDCs. Results: PDCs in our cases always displayed an inverted MUC1 pattern. In addition, we found abnormal (lost or cytoplasmic) expression of E-cadherin in PDCs. Conclusions: The altered expression of MUC1 and E-cadherin may account for the aggressive behavior and higher metastatic potential of CRCs with high PDC counts and indicate an epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Our findings suggest that regardless of the morphologic aspect, PDCs and the micropapillary component may reflect the same biological phenomenon in CRCs. Thus, we wonder whether the micropapillary areas should be considered a variant of CRCs or more objectively counted as PDCs to predict prognosis. We also believe that the term PDC better describes the biological phenomena underlying this peculiar morphologic aspect in comparison with the misnomer micropapillary. © American Society for Clinical Pathology.
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