Reduced KAI1 expression in pancreatic cancer is associated with lymph node and distant metastases

Helmut Friess, Xiao Zhong Guo, Pascal Berberat, Hans U. Graber, Arthur Zimmermann, Murray Korc, Markus W. Büchler

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75 Scopus citations


KAI1 belongs to a structurally distinct family of membrane glycoproteins, which function via cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions, thereby potentially influencing the ability of cancer cells to invade tissues and to metastasize into lymph nodes and distant organs. In the present study, we examined KAI1 expression in lymph node and liver metastases in comparison with primary pancreatic cancer to evaluate its influence on metastasis. KAI1 mRNA analysis was performed by Northern blot analysis and in situ hybridization. In addition, the respective protein was studied by immunostaining. Fourteen primary pancreatic cancer samples in which no lymph node metastases were present and 25 primary pancreatic cancer samples in which lymph node metastases were present at the time of tumor resection were included. In 20 of these cases, primary pancreatic cancer tissues and corresponding lymph node metastases from the same patient were studied. Furthermore, 11 liver metastases were available for KAI1 analysis. Increased steady-state levels of KAI1 mRNA were found in 33/39 (85%) primary pancreatic cancers in comparison with normal controls. Statistical analysis of KAI1 mRNA levels and clinical parameters of the patients revealed that KAI1 mRNA levels were significantly higher in non-metastasized tumors compared with tumors in which lymph node or distant metastases were present. In lymph node metastases KAI1 mRNA expression was lower than in the corresponding primary tumors: In 14 of 20 lymph node metastases no KAI1 mRNA expression and in 6 of 20 lymph node metastases only weak KAI1 mRNA levels were present in some cancer cells. Cancer cells of distant metastases were devoid of or exhibited low KAI1 mRNA levels compared with those of primary pancreatic cancers. A similar pattern was observed by immunostaining. These data support the hypothesis that KAI1 gene expression might influence the metastatic ability of pancreatic cancer cells in vivo. Reduction of KAI1 appears to promote cancer cell spread in lymph nodes and distant organs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-355
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 13 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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