The distribution of fibronectin (FN) and collagen type III (IIIC) have been compared in a series of epithelial neoplasms from the gastrointestinal tract and salivary gland. The difficulty of distinguishing between FN of epithelial and fibroblastic origin is emphasised and evidence is presented for the validity of this distinction. In carcinomas FN was sometimes, but not invariably, lost from epithelial cell surfaces. Both FN and IIIC were increased in reactive connective tissue stroma. It is concluded that loss of cell surface FN is unlikely to be a useful diagnostic marker for malignancy, but that the occurrence of this phenomenon in vivo as in vitro indicates that it is biologically significant.
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