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J Pediatr Surg. 2010 Dec;45(12):2299-304. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2010.08.020.

Hedgehog signaling pathway in neuroblastoma differentiation.

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Department of Pediatric Surgery, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.



The hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway is activated in some adult cancers. On the other hand, the Hh signaling pathway plays an important role in the development of the neural crest in embryos. The aim of this study is to show the activation of Hh signaling pathway in neuroblastoma (NB), a pediatric malignancy arising from neural crest cells, and to reveal the meaning of the Hh signaling pathway in NB development.


This study analyzed the expression of Sonic hedgehog (Shh), GLI1, and Patched 1 (Ptch1), transactivators of Hh signaling pathway, by immunohistochemistry in 82 NB and 10 ganglioneuroblastoma cases. All 92 cases were evaluated for the status of MYCN amplification.


Of the 92 cases, 67 (73%) were positive for Shh, 62 cases (67%) were positive for GLI1, and 73 cases (79%) were positive for Ptch1. Only 2 (10%) of the 20 cases with MYCN amplification were positive for Shh and GLI1, and 4 cases (20%) were positive for Ptch1 (MYCN amplification vs no MYCN amplification, P ≦ .01). The percentage of GLI1-positive cells in the cases with INSS stage 1 without MYCN amplification was significantly higher than that with INSS stage 4. Of 72 cases without MYCN amplification, 60 were GLI1-positive. Twelve cases were GLI1-negative, and the prognosis of the GLI1-positive cases was significantly better than that of the GLI1-negative cases (P = .015).


Most of NBs without MYCN amplification were positive for Shh, GLI1, and Ptch1. In the cases without MYCN amplification, the high expression of GLI1 was significantly associated with early clinical stage and a good prognosis of the patients. In contrast to adult cancers, the activation of the Hh signaling pathway in NB may be associated with the differentiation of the NB.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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