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J Pediatr Surg. 2001 Aug;36(8):1150-6.

Retinoid signaling directs secondary lineage selection in pancreatic organogenesis.

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Laboratory for Surgical Organogenesis, Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA.



Retinoid signaling plays an important role in many differentiation pathways. Retinoid signaling has been implicated in the induction of differentiation by pancreatic ductal cancer cell lines and in patients with pancreatic cancer. The authors wished to better understand the role of retinoid signaling in pancreatic development.


Embryonic pancreas was harvested from mice at serial gestational ages and immunohistochemical analysis was performed for retinoic acid receptors (RAR-alpha, RAR-beta, RAR-gamma), and retinoid X receptors (RXR-alpha, RXR-beta, and RXR-gamma). Also, early embryonic pancreases were cultured for 7 days with exogenous 9-cis retinoic acid (9cRA) or all-trans retinoic acid (atRA) and analyzed histologically and immunohistochemically.


Retinoid receptors were expressed in a lineage-specific distribution, with stronger expression for many in the exocrine compartment. The receptors were not often expressed until late gestation. Exogenous 9cRA induced predominantly ducts instead of acini, plus more mature endocrine (islet) architecture. Exogenous atRA induced predominantly acini instead of ducts, with no apparent endocrine effect.


Retinoids may have an important role in pancreatic differentiation, with a particular effect on secondary lineage selection between ductal and acinar phenotype. Because the control of ductal versus acinar differentiation has been implicated strongly in the pathogenesis of pancreatic ductal carcinoma, these results may lay the groundwork for studies in the mechanism of induced differentiation of pancreatic ductal cancer by retinoids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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