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.