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Telomerase activity in pancreatic endocrine tumours: a potential marker for malignancy


Aims—Telomerase activation is known to be a common event in human cancer and may be a useful marker for malignancy. In general, the histological features of pancreatic endocrine tumours cannot be used to determine their malignant potential. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of testing telomerase activity in pancreatic endocrine tumours.

Methods—Prospectively collected fresh frozen tissue specimens from 10 patients with pancreatic endocrine tumours (nine insulinomas, one adrenocorticotrophin producing pancreatic endocrine tumour) were examined by a highly sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based telomerase repeat protocol (TRAP).

Results—Of the 10 pancreatic endocrine tumours, three had telomerase activity. The positive cases included two frankly malignant tumours with liver metastases and one pancreatic endocrine tumour occurring in the setting of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1. The latter had an infiltrative border. Vascular and perineural tumour infiltration was noted. In the two malignant pancreatic endocrine tumours with liver metastases, telomerase activity was noted in the tumour and the adjacent morphologically non-neoplastic pancreas.

Conclusion—To our knowledge, this is the first report of the role of telomerase activity in pancreatic endocrine tumours. Telomerase activity might be useful for distinguishing between benign and malignant pancreatic endocrine tumours.

  • telomerase
  • pancreatic endocrine tumour

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