p27: a potential main inhibitor of cell proliferation in digestive endocrine tumors but not a marker of benign behavior

Hum Pathol. 2001 Oct;32(10):1094-101. doi: 10.1053/hupa.2001.28234.


The immunohistochemical expression of the inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases p21 and p27 was investigated in 109 endocrine tumors of the pancreas and gastrointestinal tract and compared with that of Ki67 and p53. p21 was found to be scarcely expressed without significant differences between benign and malignant or between differentiated and undifferentiated tumors. This suggests no relationship between changes in p21 levels and clinical behavior in these endocrine tumors. p27 was found to be highly expressed in differentiated neoplasms and proved to be inversely related to Ki67 labeling (P =.02), which was usually low. These data indicate that p27 may have an important inhibiting role on the low proliferation rate of the tumors. Moreover, the protein may have a role in the resistance of differentiated endocrine tumors to chemotherapeutic agents. p27 high-expressor neoplasms were frequent in either benign (70.6%) or malignant (81.4%) differentiated tumors, thus not allowing the use of this protein for the differential diagnosis of malignant neoplasms as suggested for endocrine tumors of parathyroid and pituitary. Poorly differentiated endocrine carcinomas, which differred from the differentiated tumors for their very high Ki67 levels and frequent p53 expression, showed low or absent p21 and p27 in most cases. Classical midgut carcinoids were characterized by a sharp discrepancy between malignant behavior and very bland proliferative pattern, with Ki67 and p27 expressions similar to that of benign tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Islet Cell / metabolism*
  • Adenoma, Islet Cell / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Carcinoid Tumor / metabolism*
  • Carcinoid Tumor / pathology
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Division
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • Cyclins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gastrinoma / metabolism
  • Gastrinoma / pathology
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Glucagonoma / metabolism
  • Glucagonoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insulinoma / metabolism
  • Insulinoma / pathology
  • Ki-67 Antigen / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CDKN1A protein, human
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27