Candidate protein biomarkers in pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms grade 3

Sci Rep. 2020 Jun 30;10(1):10639. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-67670-7.


Pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (PanNENs) are rare tumours that compose 1-2% of all pancreatic tumours. Patients with metastatic grade 3 neoplasia are usually treated with chemotherapy but have a poor progression-free and overall survival. According to the WHO 2017 classification, they are divided into neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) G3 and neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs). Despite the new classification, new diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers are needed to sub-categorise the patients and to help guide therapy decisions. Blood from 42 patients and 42 healthy controls were screened for the presence of 92 proteins with the Immuno-Oncology panel using the Proximity Extension Assay provided by Olink Biosciences. Immunohistochemical staining of FAS ligand (FASLG) was performed on 16 patient tumour specimens using a commercial antibody. Fifty-four out of 87 evaluable proteins differed significantly in concentration between blood from patients and blood from healthy controls. FASLG was the only protein for which the concentration in blood was significantly lower in patients compared to controls and the levels correlated negatively to Ki-67 index. Seven of 14 evaluable PanNEN G3 specimens showed FASLG immunoreactivity in the tumour cells while there was scattered immunoreactivity in immune cells. Positive FASLG immunoreactivity correlated to well-differentiated morphology. FASLG concentration in blood was significantly lower in patients with pancreatic NENs G3 compared to controls, and the expression in tumour tissue was variable. Furthermore, FASLG was negatively correlated to Ki-67 and was more frequently expressed in well-differentiated tumours. Taken together, these results may suggest a role of FASLG in PanNENs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Fas Ligand Protein / blood*
  • Fas Ligand Protein / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ki-67 Antigen / blood*
  • Ki-67 Antigen / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / blood
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / metabolism*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / pathology
  • Pancreas / metabolism
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology


  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Ki-67 Antigen