Expression of the antiapoptotic protein BAG3 is a feature of pancreatic adenocarcinoma and its overexpression is associated with poorer survival

Am J Pathol. 2012 Nov;181(5):1524-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2012.07.016. Epub 2012 Aug 31.


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most deadly cancers, being the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Long-term survival reaching 15% is achieved in less than 5% of patients who undergo surgery, and median survival is only 6 months in those with inoperable lesions. A deeper understanding of PDAC biologic characteristics as well as novel prognostic markers are therefore required to improve outcomes. Herein we report that BAG3, a protein with recognized anti-apoptotic activity, was expressed in 346 PDACs analyzed, but was not expressed in the surrounding nonneoplastic tissue. In a cohort of 66 patients who underwent radical resection (R0), survival was significantly shorter in patients with high BAG3 expression (median, 12 months) than in those with low BAG3 expression (median, 23 months) (P = 0.001). Furthermore, we report that BAG3 expression in PDAC-derived cell lines protects from apoptosis and confers resistance to gemcitabine, offering a partial explanation for the survival data. Our results indicate that BAG3 has a relevant role in PDAC biology, and suggest that BAG3 expression level might be a potential marker for prediction of patient outcome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Aged
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Apoptosis* / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Deoxycytidine / pharmacology
  • Deoxycytidine / therapeutic use
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Female
  • Gemcitabine
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Survival Analysis


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • BAG3 protein, human
  • Deoxycytidine
  • Gemcitabine