• molecular pathogenesis of gallbladder cancer;
  • K-ras mutations;
  • p53 alterations;
  • microsatellite instability


Despite the considerable progress in understanding the molecular pathology of carcinogenesis, the genetic mechanisms underlying the development and progression of gallbladder cancer (GC) are poorly understood. The survival of GC patients is generally poor. Therefore, it is very useful to define valuable prognostic factors. The most extensively studied oncogenes in gallbladder carcinogenesis are ras, commonly mutated in neoplasms of the gastrointestinal tract. K-ras oncogene is altered in a subset of gallbladder patients and mainly in those having anomalous junction of the pancreaticobiliary tract. Most of the studies of genetic abnormalities in GC have focused on p53 gene. p53 mutation/overexpression and/or LOH is present in more than 50% of gallbladder carcinomas, suggesting an important role in their pathogenesis. However, these results have not any predictive value yet. Moreover, the involvement of an alternative molecular pathway, that of microsatellite instability (MSI), is found in a limited group of GC patients. Additional research is necessary to establish its possible relation to defects of the mismatch repair (MMR) system and its proposed prognostic significance. Further elucidation of the molecular events specific to GC will help to identify novel molecular targets for the diagnosis and clinical management of the patients. J. Surg. Oncol. 2006;93:644–649. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.