Background: It has been reported that cathepsin E (CTSE) is a non-secretory and intracellular aspartic proteinase found in the superficial epithelial cells of the stomach and that it is also expressed in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. We evaluated the diagnostic value of CTSE in the pancreatic juice in the diagnosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma compared with that of CA19-9, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and K-ras mutations.
Methods: One hundred and one patients (25 with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and 76 with chronic pancreatitis) were examined for the diagnostic significance of CTSE in the pancreatic juice in the diagnosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Forty of 101 patients (15 with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and 25 with chronic pancreatitis) were examined to compare the diagnostic value of various tumor markers in the pancreatic juice, namely CA19-9, CEA, K-ras mutations and CTSE.
Results: The detection frequency of CTSE was significantly higher in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (64.0%) than in patients with chronic pancreatitis (7.9%; chi2 = 34.76; P < 0.0001). The sensitivity, specificity and diagnostic accuracy of CTSE in the pancreatic juice for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma was 66.7, 92.0 and 82.5%, respectively. These values were more efficient in comparison with those of CA19-9, CEA and K-ras mutations. The main cause of the detection failure of CTSE in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma was obstruction of the main pancreatic duct. Sensitivity was 85.7% in patients without obstruction of the main pancreatic duct.
Conclusions: Cathepsin E in the pancreatic juice is a novel marker for a definitive diagnosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.