Evolution of oesophageal adenocarcinoma from metaplastic columnar epithelium without goblet cells in Barrett's oesophagus.
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OBJECTIVE: Barrett's oesophagus commonly presents as a patchwork of columnar metaplasia with and without goblet cells in the distal oesophagus. The presence of metaplastic columnar epithelium with goblet cells on oesophageal biopsy is a marker of cancer progression risk, but it is unclear whether clonal expansion and progression in Barrett's oesophagus is exclusive to columnar epithelium with goblet cells. DESIGN: We developed a novel method to trace the clonal ancestry of an oesophageal adenocarcinoma across an entire Barrett's segment. Clonal expansions in Barrett's mucosa were identified using cytochrome c oxidase enzyme histochemistry. Somatic mutations were identified through mitochondrial DNA sequencing and single gland whole exome sequencing. RESULTS: By tracing the clonal origin of an oesophageal adenocarcinoma across an entire Barrett's segment through a combination of histopathological spatial mapping and clonal ordering, we find that this cancer developed from a premalignant clonal expansion in non-dysplastic ('cardia-type') columnar metaplasia without goblet cells. CONCLUSION: Our data demonstrate the premalignant potential of metaplastic columnar epithelium without goblet cells in the context of Barrett's oesophagus.