Background: The authors previously found specific mutations of the K-ras gene at codon 12 in the pancreatic juice of 67% of patients (6 of 9) with pancreatic ductal carcinoma, and the detection of these mutations was useful for diagnosis. This study was performed to detect and evaluate K-ras mutations in pancreatic juice from patients with intraductal papillary mucinous tumor of the pancreas, which is considered a low grade malignancy. The results were interpreted from the viewpoint of clinical significance.
Methods: K-ras mutations were examined using seminested polymerase chain reaction analysis combined with restriction enzyme digestion, followed by nonradioisotopic single strand DNA conformation polymorphism.
Results: Twelve of thirteen cases (92%) of intraductal papillary mucinous tumor of the pancreas, confirmed histologically (9 adenomas and 4 carcinomas), and 26 of 43 cases (60%) of ductal carcinoma showed specific K-ras gene mutations in the pancreatic juice. Furthermore, 4 of 22 patients (18%) with chronic pancreatitis, followed for more than 1 year without a sign of pancreatic tumor, showed K-ras mutations. In contrast, no mutations of the K-ras gene were detected in the pancreatic juice from 28 normal controls.
Conclusions: K-ras mutations were found in the pancreatic juice of all but one patient with intraductal papillary mucinous tumor of the pancreas, but they were not useful for distinguishing carcinoma from adenoma. The authors concluded that K-ras mutations are not a specific marker for pancreatic neoplasms because similar mutations were detected in the pancreatic juice from patients with chronic pancreatitis. At the present time, the detection of K-ras mutations in pancreatic juice should be used clinically as an adjunct diagnostic modality for pancreatic diseases.