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Biotech Histochem. 2012 Feb;87(2):126-32. doi: 10.3109/10520295.2011.570276. Epub 2011 Mar 28.

Clinical significance of MUC1, MUC2 and CK17 expression patterns for diagnosis of pancreatobiliary arcinoma.

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Genzyme Genetics, Westborough, Massachusetts 01581, USA.


Pancreatic cancer is characterized by aggressive growth and resistance to treatment. Identification of unique biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis is important for treatment of this disease. We investigated the expression patterns of mucin 1 (MUC1), mucin 2 (MUC2) and cytokeratin 17 (CK17) in both normal tissues and metastatic adenocarcinomas using immunohistochemistry (IHC). We have shown that MUC1 (pan-epithelial membrane mucin), MUC2 (intestinal-type secretory mucin) and CK17 can be used as a panel of markers to distinguish collectively pancreatobiliary carcinoma from other primary site carcinomas. Tumors originating in the pancreatobiliary system showed an expression pattern of MUC1 (+), MUC2 (-) and CK17 (+). By contrast, tumors arising from the colorectal region were MUC1 (-), MUC2 (+) and CK17 (-), while tumors originating from non-pancreatobiliary system tissue expressed a MUC1 (+), MUC2 (-) and CK17 (-) profile. More importantly, the MUC1 (+), MUC2 (-) and CK17 (+) result showed greater sensitivity than CA19-9 by IHC, which is the currently accepted and widely used pancreatic tumor marker for diagnosing pancreatic cancer. Thirteen of 51 cases (25%) of pancreatobiliary adenocarcinomas with the pattern MUC1 (+), MUC2 (-) and CK17 (+) showed no immunoreactivity for CA19-9, while 34/51 (67%) cases having MUC1 (+), MUC2 (-) and CK17 (+) were correlated with positive CA19-9 staining. Our data support using an antibody panel of MUC1, MUC2 and CK17 to enhance current methods for pancreatic cancer diagnosis by identifying specifically the primary tissue of origin.

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