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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Different splice variants of CD44 are expressed in gastrinomas but not in other subtypes of endocrine pancreatic tumors.

Endocrine pancreatic tumors are neuroendocrine neoplasms with malignant potential and give rise to varied clinical syndromes due to excessive secretion of multiple hormones. In this study 22 endocrine pancreatic tumors and 11 carcinoid tumors were examined for the expression of CD44 using a monoclonal antibody. CD44 gene activity of 11 endocrine pancreatic tumor tissues and five carcinoid tumor tissues was also studied by amplifying messenger RNA with the polymerase chain reaction followed by electrophoresis and blot hybridization. Strong immunoreactivity was detected on all gastrinomas examined (P < 0.001), and in two non-functioning endocrine pancreatic tumors. Such immunoreactivity was not observed in other subtypes of endocrine pancreatic tumors. In the normal human pancreas, the acinar portion and ductal epithelial cells stained strongly positive but pancreatic islet cells did not show any significant immunostaining. Furthermore, in endocrine pancreatic tumors with metastatic disease, CD44-positive tumors had a tendency to metastasize to lymph nodes (P = 0.005), as compared with CD44-negative tumors which were locally invasive or metastasized to the liver. Although, in this limited material and short follow-up, we were not able to show any statistical significance, patients with CD44-negative endocrine pancreatic tumors had prolonged survival time compared with patients with CD44-positive tumors (73% versus 59% at 5 years; P = 0.7). Of 10 carcinoid tumors examined, all three foregut carcinoids and one midgut carcinoid stained strongly positive, whereas all other midgut carcinoids were negative. Analysis of CD44 splice variants showed that in all five gastrinomas there was overproduction of alternatively spliced larger molecular variants as compared with other types of endocrine pancreatic tumors and carcinoid tumors. The band pattern from one case of carcinoid tumor with a fulminant clinical course was similar to that of gastrinomas, whereas other carcinoid tumors expressed the epithelial form of CD44. The earlier identified splice variants which confer metastatic behavior on a pancreatic tumor cell line were not expressed in neuroendocrine tumors. Our data indicate that CD44 expression in endocrine pancreatic tumors correlates with the ability to give rise to lymph node metastases and may play a vital role in determining the fate of metastasizing cells. Moreover, because gastrin is not detectable in the normal human pancreas, the pancreatic ductal cell positivity for CD44 strengthened the ductal origin concept of gastrinomas. The band pattern of CD44 splice variants suggests that the previously described splice variants conferring metastatic behavior do not accompany metastatic activity of neuroendocrine tumors.[1]


  1. Different splice variants of CD44 are expressed in gastrinomas but not in other subtypes of endocrine pancreatic tumors. Chaudhry, A., Gobl, A., Eriksson, B., Skogseid, B., Oberg, K. Cancer Res. (1994) [Pubmed]
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