Gastric cancer (GC) is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. Molecular heterogeneity is a major determinant for the clinical outcomes and an exhaustive tumor classification is currently missing. Histologically normal tissue adjacent to the tumor (NAT) is commonly used as a control in cancer studies, nevertheless a recently published paper described the unique characteristics of the NAT in several tumor types. Little is known about the global gene expression profile of gastric NAT (gNAT) which could be an effective tool for a more realistic definition of GC molecular signature. Here, we integrated data of 512 samples from the Genotype- Tissue Expression project (GETx) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) to analyze the transcriptome of healthy gastric tissues, gNAT, and GC samples. We validated TCGA-GETx data mining through inHouse gNAT and GC expression dataset. Differential gene expression together with pathway enrichment analyses, indeed, led to different results when using the gNAT or the healthy tissue as control. Based on our analyses, gNAT showed a peculiar gene signature and biological features, like the estrogen receptor pathways activation, suggesting a molecular behavior partially different from both healthy and GC tissues. Therefore, using gNAT as healthy control tissue in the characterization of tumor associated biological processes and pathways could lead to suboptimal results.
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