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Virchows Arch. 1996 Nov;429(4-5):191-5.

Differential expression of CD44v6 in adenocarcinoma of the pancreas: an immunohistochemical study.

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Department of Pathology, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Barcelona, Spain.


Alternative splicing gives rise to numerous CD44 isoforms, some of which seem to have a role in tumour metastasis. Specifically, a variant form of CD44 with sequences encoded by exon v6 (CD44v6) confers metastatic potential when transfected into a nonmetastasizing cell line of rat pancreatic adenocarcinoma. This study has investigated standard CD44 (CD44s) and CD44v6 expression immunohistochemically in 6 samples of normal pancreatic tissue, 4 of tissue affected by chronic pancreatitis, and 24 of tissue from metastasizing and nonmetastasizing pancreatic adenocarcinomas. In addition, 18 samples from lymph node or visceral metastases were included in the study. CD44s was expressed in nonneoplastic tissue and in tissue from pancreatic adenocarcinomas. In contrast, CD44v6 was not detected in any of the normal tissue or chronic pancreatitis specimens, whereas 54% of pancreatic adenocarcinomas and 55% of metastases expressed this variant exon. Although it is not clear whether CD44 isoforms containing exon v6 play a part in malignant progression in the human exocrine pancreas, it seems plausible that the expression of multiple isoforms containing this and other variant exon confers a selective advantage on pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

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