• Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma;
  • pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia;
  • urocortin;
  • immunostain score

Urocortin (UCN) is a 40-aminoacid neuropeptide that regulates angiogenesis and inhibits cell proliferation. Our aim was to examine the relationship of UCN expression to the clinicopathological parameters of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and histological grade of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN). Tissue microarray was used to analyze UCN protein expression in 89 surgical specimens including 21 PanIN, 3 PDAC arising from PanIN, and 65 PDAC without PanIN. UCN immunoscores ranging from 0 to 12 were obtained by multiplying intensity (scored on a 3-point scale) by the percentage of stained cells (scored on a 4-point scale). Strong expression of UCN was detected in 5 specimens of non-neoplastic pancreatic ductal epithelia. UCN immunoscore was significantly higher in PanIN-1 than in PanIN-2 and PanIN-3 (p = 0.038) and significantly higher in well-differentiated PDAC or early American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stage PDAC than in poorly differentiated or advanced stage PDAC (p = 0.025, p = 0.018). Higher expression of UCN correlates with PDAC tumor grade and AJCC pathologic stage as well as PanIN grade. Immunohistochemical assessment of UCN may help clinicians predict tumor recurrence rate and help pathologists make a proper diagnosis.