Expression of survivin is correlated with cancer cell apoptosis and is involved in the development of human pancreatic duct cell tumors

Cancer. 2001 Jul 15;92(2):271-8. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(20010715)92:2<271::aid-cncr1319>;2-0.


Background: Survivin is a new member of the inhibitor of apoptosis family of antiapoptotic proteins. This protein was expressed selectively in all the most common human carcinomas but not in normal adult tissues. To our knowledge, the relation between survivin expression and apoptosis or tumorigenesis has not yet been studied in pancreatic neoplasms.

Methods: The authors investigated the expression of survivin in 4 pancreatic carcinoma cell lines and 56 human pancreatic tissues (5 cases of normal, 12 cases of chronic pancreatitis [CP], 26 cases of pancreatic duct cell adenocarcinoma [PDC], 16 lesions of 13 intraductal papillary-mucinous tumor [IPMT] by immunohistochemistry, immunoblotting, and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to examine the association of its expression with tumor apoptosis and/or tumorigenesis.

Results: Survivin expression was found in the tumor cells but not in the nonneoplastic pancreatic tissues (normal and CP tissues). Survivin expression was observed in 20 of 26 cases of PDC (76.9%) and in 9 of 16 IPMT lesions that ranged from adenoma to invasive (56.3%) by immunohistochemistry. Survivin was more frequently expressed in malignant tumors than in benign tumors (P = 0.0089). In PDC, high levels of survivin expression were associated significantly with a reduction in the apoptotic index of the tumor cells (0.445% +/- 0.150% vs. 0.961% +/- 0.378%; P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: These data suggest that the expression of survivin may be upregulated during an early step of tumorigenesis and during the development of cancer by reducing the cancer cell apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Apoptosis*
  • Carcinoma, Medullary / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / pathology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins*
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Pancreas / physiology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Pancreatitis / pathology
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Survivin
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / physiology
  • Up-Regulation


  • BIRC5 protein, human
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Survivin