High expression of RelA/p65 is associated with activation of nuclear factor-kappaB-dependent signaling in pancreatic cancer and marks a patient population with poor prognosis

Br J Cancer. 2007 Aug 20;97(4):523-30. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6603878. Epub 2007 Jul 10.


Activation of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) signaling was observed in pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell lines and tumours. However, information on the expression of RelA/p65, the major transcription activating NF-kappaB subunit, in these carcinomas and possible correlations thereof with NF-kappaB activation and patient survival is not available. To provide this missing translational link, we analysed expression of RelA/p65 in 82 pancreatic adenocarcinomas by immunohistochemistry. Moreover, we measured activation of the NF-kappaB pathway in 11 tumours by quantitative PCR for NF-kappaB target genes. We observed strong cytoplasmic or nuclear expression of RelA/p65 in 42 and 37 carcinomas, respectively. High cytoplasmic and nuclear expression of RelA/p65 had negative prognostic impact with 2-year survival rates for patients without cytoplasmic or nuclear RelA/p65 positivity of 41 and 40% and rates for patients with strong cytoplasmic or nuclear RelA/p65 expression of 22 and 20%, respectively. High RelA/p65 expression was correlated to increased expression of NF-kappaB target genes. The observation that high expression of RelA/p65 is correlated to an activation of the NF-kappaB pathway and indicates poor patient survival identifies a patient subgroup that might particularly benefit from NF-kappaB-inhibiting agents in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Based on our findings, this subgroup could be identified by applying simple immunohistochemical techniques.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Prognosis
  • Signal Transduction
  • Survival Analysis
  • Transcription Factor RelA / genetics*
  • Transcription Factor RelA / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • NF-kappa B
  • Transcription Factor RelA