Background: Pancreatic cancer has a poor prognosis, and early diagnosis of carcinoma and discrimination between malignant and benign conditions are difficult. Many pancreatic cancer-associated antigens, such as CA 19-9, DU-PAN-2, YPan-1, and SPan-1, have been studied. However, expression of Tn, sialosyl-Tn, and T antigens in tissues of different types of pancreatic neoplasms has not been investigated systematically. Moreover, little is known about the distribution of different types of apomucins in the pancreas.
Methods: The expression of Tn, sialosyl-Tn, and T antigens and DF3 (mammary type apomucin) and intestinal MRP (intestinal type apomucin) was examined immunohistochemically in 47 pancreatic tumors: 36 invasive ductal carcinomas, 5 intraductal papillary tumors, and 6 adenomas.
Results: In normal pancreatic tissues, neither Tn nor sialosyl-Tn antigen was expressed. In contrast, expression of both Tn and sialosyl-Tn antigens was observed in all the invasive ductal carcinomas and intraductal papillary tumors. None of the adenomas expressed both Tn and sialosyl-Tn. DF3 antigen was expressed in all invasive ductal carcinomas but not in intraductal papillary tumors, whereas intestinal MRP was expressed in all the intraductal papillary tumors but not in the invasive ductal carcinomas.
Conclusions: The results from this study suggest that the expression of the mucin core protein and mucin carbohydrate antigens is correlated with the biologic behavior of pancreatic tumors. In particular, the expression of mammary type mucin core protein and intestinal type mucin core protein showed a striking contrast between invasive ductal carcinomas with a poor prognosis and intraductal papillary tumors with a favorable prognosis.