"We have recently reported that low tumor levels of SMAD4, a key mediator of transforming growth factor-p superfamily signaling, can predict the probability of recurrence in patients with Dukes C colorectal cancer who had surgery as the only form of treatment. However, standard treatment for Dukes C colorectal cancer patients currently involves the administration of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) based adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery. Approximately 30% to 40% of these patients present with recurrence and die within 5 years, and there is great need for markers capable of predicting poor prognosis after the combined surgery/adjuvant treatment. In this study, we evaluate the prognostic value of SMAD4 in patients treated with surgery and 5-FU-based adjuvant therapy. We used immunohistochemistry and quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR to measure the levels of SMAD4 protein and mRNA expression in the primary tumors and a number of lymph node metastases from a series of 75 Dukes C colorectal cancer patients with at least 6 years of follow-up. Patients with tumors expressing low levels of SMAD4 protein or m RNA showed significantly shorted disease-free and overall survival than patients with high tumor levels of SMAD4. The median survival of patients with low SMAD4 protein or mRNA tumor levels was 1.4 and 1.2 years, respectively, whereas patients with high SMAD4 tumor level had a median survival of > 9.3 years. In addition, the protein and mRNA levels of SMAD4 in lymph node metastases was significantly lower than in primary tumors (P = 0.006). In contrast, allelic imbalance in chromosome 18q21 was of no prognostic significance in these patients. In conclusion, low SMAD4 tumor levels identified a subset of patients with poor prognosis following surgery and 5-FU-based adjuvant therapy; therefore, these patients could be good candidates to receive combined treatment with additional chemotherapeutic agents such as CPT-11 and/or oxaliplatin."