• Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is a small polypeptide hormone that promotes the growth of cells in culture and elicits the differentiation of epithelial tissues in vivo. The effect of EGF is mediated by a transmembrane receptor that is expressed in increased amounts on some tumor cells. We have used a monoclonal antibody to the EGF receptor to detect increased expression of the receptor on human colon carcinoma cells. All eight of the moderately well-differentiated colon carcinoma cell lines tested and several frozen colon carcinoma tissue sections showed increased expression of the EGF receptor, while five poorly differentiated colon carcinoma cell lines and normal colon tissue sections did not. Increased expression of the EGF receptor on moderately welldifferentiated colon carcinoma cells but not on poorly differentiated colon carcinoma cells was also demonstrated by western transfer and iodine 125–labeled EGF binding assays. Increased expression of the EGF receptor on moderately welldifferentiated colon carcinoma cells seems to be a useful marker for the differentiation of human colon carcinoma cells. In addition, it might provide a site for adjuvant hormonal therapy or immunotherapy.
(Arch Surg 1986;121:1242-1247)