Hypoxia-inducible proto-oncogene Pim-1 is a prognostic marker in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Cancer Biol Ther. 2008 Sep;7(9):1352-9. doi: 10.4161/cbt.7.9.6418. Epub 2008 Sep 2.


Background: Pim-1 is a proto-oncogene involved in cell survival, differentiation and proliferation in several hematologic and epithelial malignancies. Clinically, absence of Pim-1 expression correlates with poor prognosis in prostate cancer. In the present study, the expression of Pim-1 is analyzed in pancreatic cancer and correlated to clinicopathological parameters.

Results: Compared to benign, inflammatory and pre-malignant conditions (i.e., the normal pancreas, chronic pancreatitis and benign intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm), expression of Pim-1 mRNA and protein increased significantly in pancreatic malignancies. Absence of Pim-1 immunopositivity in cancer cells strongly correlated with a poor prognosis (median survival 13.8 vs. 23.4 months, p = 0.0016). In vitro, rapidly dividing (high versus low serum concentrations) and hypoxic cells displayed higher Pim-1 mRNA and protein levels.

Methods: Pim-1 mRNA and protein was evaluated with quantitative real-time RT-PCR, immunofluorescence and immunocytochemistry analyses. Ex vivo expression analysis using semi-quantitative immunohistochemistry was performed using human pancreatic tissues of the normal pancreas (n = 10), chronic pancreatitis (n = 30), pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (n = 59) and other pancreatic tumors (n = 42). In consecutive sections HIF1-alpha was used as a marker of hypoxia. Survival of patients (n = 35) was compared using the Kaplan-Meier method and a log-rank test. In vitro analyses were performed using cultured pancreatic cancer cell lines (n = 8) and primary human pancreatic stellate cells.

Conclusion: Hypoxia is a novel inducer of Pim-1 expression. Compared to non-malignant tissues Pim-1 significantly increases in pancreatic cancer. However, the presence of Pim-1 in cancer cells has a positive prognostic impact.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-pim-1 / analysis*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MAS1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • PIM1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-pim-1