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Gastroenterology. 2002 Oct;123(4):1052-60.

Aberrant expression of MUC5AC and MUC6 gastric mucins and sialyl Tn antigen in intraepithelial neoplasms of the pancreas.

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Gastrointestinal Research Laboratory, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California 94121, USA.



It has recently been suggested that infiltrating adenocarcinoma of the pancreas arises from histologically well-defined precursor ductal lesions called pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN-1A, -1B, -2, and -3). This study examined alterations in the pattern and the level of expression of several mucin genes (MUC1, MUC2, MUC5AC, and MUC6) and mucin-associated tumor antigens (Nd2 and sialyl Tn) in these precursor lesions.


We examined 139 PanINs and 68 infiltrating ductal adenocarcinomas of the pancreas by using immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization methods.


Overexpression of MUC1, a pan-epithelial mucin, and MUC6, a pyloric-gland mucin, and de novo expression of MUC5AC, a gastric foveolar mucin, was observed in all stages of PanINs and invasive ductal adenocarcinoma. In contrast, the expression of mucin-associated carbohydrate antigen, sialyl Tn, was markedly increased only in PanlN-3 and invasive ductal adenocarcinoma. In addition, a decrease in the expression of these mucin-associated peptide and carbohydrate antigens was correlated with the degree of differentiation of the tumor.


Expression of both gastric-foveolar and pyloric-gland mucin in PanINs is an early event, whereas sialyl Tn expression is a late event in the recently defined progression model of pancreatic carcinogenesis. This altered mucin gene expression provides new insight into the role of cell lineage-associated metaplasia in pancreatic carcinogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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