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Clonal Transitions and Phenotypic Evolution in Barrett’s Esophagus
Gastroenterology  (IF22.682),  Pub Date : 2021-12-29, DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2021.12.271
James A. Evans, Emanuela Carlotti, Meng-Lay Lin, Richard J. Hackett, Magnus J. Haughey, Adam M. Passman, Lorna Dunn, George Elia, Ross J. Porter, Mairi H. McLean, Frances Hughes, Joanne ChinAleong, Philip Woodland, Sean L. Preston, S. Michael Griffin, Laurence Lovat, Manuel Rodriguez-Justo, Weini Huang, Stuart A.C. McDonald

Background & Aims

Barrett’s esophagus (BE) is a risk factor for esophageal adenocarcinoma but our understanding of how it evolves is poorly understood. We investigated BE gland phenotype distribution, the clonal nature of phenotypic change, and how phenotypic diversity plays a role in progression.


Using immunohistochemistry and histology, we analyzed the distribution and the diversity of gland phenotype between and within biopsy specimens from patients with nondysplastic BE and those who had progressed to dysplasia or had developed postesophagectomy BE. Clonal relationships were determined by the presence of shared mutations between distinct gland types using laser capture microdissection sequencing of the mitochondrial genome.


We identified 5 different gland phenotypes in a cohort of 51 nondysplastic patients where biopsy specimens were taken at the same anatomic site (1.0–2.0 cm superior to the gastroesophageal junction. Here, we observed the same number of glands with 1 and 2 phenotypes, but 3 phenotypes were rare. We showed a common ancestor between parietal cell-containing, mature gastric (oxyntocardiac) and goblet cell-containing, intestinal (specialized) gland phenotypes. Similarly, we have shown a clonal relationship between cardiac-type glands and specialized and mature intestinal glands. Using the Shannon diversity index as a marker of gland diversity, we observed significantly increased phenotypic diversity in patients with BE adjacent to dysplasia and predysplasia compared to nondysplastic BE and postesophagectomy BE, suggesting that diversity develops over time.


We showed that the range of BE phenotypes represents an evolutionary process and that changes in gland diversity may play a role in progression. Furthermore, we showed a common ancestry between gastric and intestinal-type glands in BE.