Background: The glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a member of neurotrophic polypeptide family, which promotes survival and rescue of various neural cells in the central and peripheral nerve systems. We previously reported that GDNF promotes tumor cell invasion in pancreatic cancer cell lines. The purpose of this study was to investigate GDNF family expression and the status of related receptors in actual cancer tissues, and assess correlations with clinicopathologic behavior.
Methods: Immunohistochemical assessment of GDNF, neurturin, persephin, artemin, GDNF family receptor alpha-1 and alpha-2, and RET was performed for 51 cases of surgically resected pancreatic cancer.
Results: In all intrapancreatic nerves, GDNF and artermin were expressed strongly. In pancreatic cancer tissues. The expression of RET was stronger than that seen in normal ductal cells and was significantly related to the survival rate after resection (P = .026) and lymphatic invasion (P = .014). Intrapancreatic neural invasion was significantly related to the expression of GDNF (P = .047).
Conclusions: We conclude that the expression of RET in pancreatic cancer tissues may be a useful prognostic marker and GDNF may play an important role in neural invasion.