Transthyretin, identified by proteomics, is overabundant in pancreatic juice from pancreatic carcinoma and originates from pancreatic islets

Diagn Cytopathol. 2011 Dec;39(12):875-81. doi: 10.1002/dc.21484. Epub 2010 Oct 14.


Analyses of pancreatic juice by proteomics have identified many proteins that are overabundant in pancreatic cancer (PC) juice. The mechanism by which secretion of these proteins occur remains unclear. Pancreatic juice was collected from patients with three pancreatic diseases: PC, chronic pancreatitis (CP), and simple choledocholithiasis (CDS), and analyzed by 2-DE, MALDI-TOF/MS, and Western blot. Five PC cell lines, 30 PC tissues and their corresponding adjacent pancreatic tissues were used to validate the expression of genes which code for overabundant proteins in PC juice. The mRNA and protein levels were measured by RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry, respectively. Using proteomics, it was demonstrated that the protein transthyretin (TTR) was upregulated more than 2-fold in PC juice compared with CP and CDS, while apolipoprotein A-I, lithostathine, and regenerating islet-derived 1 beta precursor were downregulated more than 2-fold. Western blots confirmed that TTR was overabundant in the PC juice. However, TTR mRNA was not detected in any of the five PC cell lines, and was only detected in islet cells. By microscopy, it was shown that islet architecture was almost completely destroyed, and the islet's maximum diameter appeared larger in PC tissues than in normal. Some overabundant proteins in PC juice, such as TTR expressed only in islets, leak into the pancreatic ductal system due to hyperplasia and architectural damage in PC tissues. The destruction of organ and tissue architecture by tumor growth may result in novel tumor markers even if the markers are not secreted directly by tumor cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Choledocholithiasis / metabolism
  • Choledocholithiasis / pathology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Juice / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / metabolism
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / pathology
  • Prealbumin / genetics
  • Prealbumin / metabolism*
  • Proteomics


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Prealbumin