Expression of E-cadherin, alpha- and beta-catenins in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma

Pancreatology. 2002;2(2):129-37. doi: 10.1159/000055903.


Background/aims: E-Cadherin and its associated cytoplasmic proteins, catenins, are important mediators of epithelial cell-cell adhesion and intracellular signaling. Much evidence exists suggesting a tumor invasion suppressor role for E-cadherin and catenins and loss of expression, as well as mutations, has been described in a number of epithelial cancers. The aim of this study was to evaluate the expression of E-cadherin and catenins in pancreatic adenocarcinoma tissue, and to examine the relationship between these expression and various clinicopathological parameters.

Methods: In this study, we conducted an immunohistochemical investigation of expression of E-cadherin, alpha- and beta-catenins in 30 tissue samples obtained from pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma patients undergoing surgical treatment.

Results: In the pancreatic mucosa of noncancerous areas, epithelial cells showed equally strong membranous expression of E-cadherin, alpha- and beta-catenin proteins at the cell-cell boundaries. Reduced expression of E-cadherin, alpha- and beta-catenins was demonstrated in 60.0, 40.0, and 56.7% of cancer tissues, respectively. Reduced expression of E-cadherin, alpha- and beta-catenins correlated with tumor dedifferentiation (p = 0.012, 0.013, and 0.033, respectively). Reduced expression of E-cadherin correlated with stage and lymph node involvement (p = 0.031, 0.009, respectively). alpha-Catenin and beta-catenin expression did not correlate with the patient's age and sex, with the tumor size, location, stage and depth of invasion, or lymph node involvement and distant metastasis.

Conclusion: These results suggest that the E-cadherin and catenins may be a useful marker of differentiation and prognosis in pancreatic adenocarcinoma, although the mechanisms underlying changes in E-cadherin and catenin expression are not fully known.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pancreas / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Reference Values
  • Trans-Activators*
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin


  • CTNNA1 protein, human
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin