Acta Med. 2004, 47: 101-105

Does Neoplastic Cholecystokinin Expression Reflect the Embryonal Pattern of the Protein? A Study in Human Pancreas

Demetrio Tamiolakisa, Ioannis Venizelosb, Constantine Simopoulosc, Maria Lambropouloud, Athanasia Kotinie, Theodoros Jivannakisf, George Alexiadisd, Panagiotis Bogloud, Nikolas Papadopoulosd

aGeneral Hospital of Chania, Department of Cytology, Greece
bIppokration Hospital of Salonica, Department of Pathology, Greece
cDemocritus University of Thrace, Department of Experimental Surgery, Greece
dDemocritus University of Thrace, Department of Histology–Embryology, Greece
eDemocritus University of Thrace, Department of Medical Physics, Greece
fGeneral Hospital of Drama, Department of Pathology, Greece

Received January 1, 2004
Accepted February 1, 2004

Aim: To determine the immunoreactivity of cholecystokinin (CCK) during the development of the human fetal pancreas and pancreatic adenocarcinoma, given that, CCK positive cells were demonstrated either in its embryonic anlage or in pancreatic cancer. In order to obtain possible parallels in the expression pattern of neoplastic cells in adults (well – moderately – poorly differentiated), we investigated the pattern of CCK expression in the pancreatic tissue during the various stages of development and compared these with the proliferation of tissue assessed by proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) immunohistochemistry. Experimental design: Tissue sections from 15 pancreatic fetal specimens, and equal number of ductal adenocarcinoma specimens, were assessed using immunohistochemical methods for CCK. Results: The density of positive cells in the primitive exocrine ductal walls and outgrowing buds was significantly higher than the relevant density in the neoplastic pancreatic tissue of mixed (ductal – endocrine) and pure ductal type (p1=0.004, p2<0.0005, p3<0.0005 and p4=0.023 respectively). The above values were estimated from 20th to 22nd weeks of gestation. There was no significant difference in the density of positive cells in the islet cell epithelium from 25–30 weeks, and the neoplastic tissue of mixed (p5=0.10) and pure ductal type (p6=0.15). Conclusions: The immunostaining for CCK identifies a subgroup of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas with a neuroendocrine component (initially considered as pure ductal tumors), and mixed ductal-endocrine tumors. This pattern of expression in neoplasms recapitulates the normal pattern during the embryonal development of the organ, and may be important for the development of new therapeutic approaches with eventual clinical utility.


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