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Pancreas. 2004 Jul;29(1):e1-8.

The correlation between cytoplasmic overexpression of epidermal growth factor receptor and tumor aggressiveness: poor prognosis in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

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Surgery I, National Defense Medical College, Saitama, Japan.



Recent studies have shown that some growth factor receptors with tyrosine kinase activity, eg, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFr) and the c-erbB-2 (HER-2) oncoprotein, are associated with aggressive biologic behavior of various cancer cell types. We examined the clinicopathological significance of the expression and localization of EGFr and HER-2 in both invasive and intraductal components of ductal adenocarcinomas of the pancreas.


Tissue samples from 76 archival cases of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma were immunohistochemically analyzed for both membrane and cytoplasmic overexpression of EGFr and HER-2 oncoprotein. The rate of incidence between the invasive and intraductal components was analyzed and then their correlation with tumor differentiation and patient prognosis was analyzed.


Cytoplasmic EGFr overexpression was more frequent in invasive components (47 of 76, 62%) than in intraductal components (19 of 76, 25%), while membrane EGFr overexpression was more frequent in intraductal components (41 of 76, 54%) than in invasive components (11 of 76, 14%). The membrane HER-2 overexpression was also more frequent in intraductal components (15 of 76, 20%) than in invasive components (2 of 76, 3%), but the incidence of cytoplasmic HER-2 overexpression did not differ between intraductal components (12 of 76, 16%) and invasive components (8 of 76, 11%). The cytoplasmic EGFr overexpression in invasive components was more frequent in grade 3 group (32 of 33, 97%) than in grade 2 (15 of 32, 47%) and grade 1 groups (0 of 10, 0%) (P < 0.001). Patients with adenocarcinoma with cytoplasmic EGFr overexpression showed shorter overall survival than those with adenocarcinoma without cytoplasmic EGFr overexpression (P = 0.02).


It is suggested that the cytoplasmic overexpression of EGFr plays a significant role in the progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, especially in the invasion and acquisition of aggressive clinical behavior. Both membrane and cytoplasmic expression of HER-2 showed no significant correlation between tumor differentiation and poor survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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