OBJECTIVES: The role of telomerase in periampullary tumor progression in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) was investigated. METHODS: Relative telomerase activity was measured using a telomerease amplification protocol in periampullary biopsy specimens of normal mucosa and adenoma obtained from patients with FAP, and was compared with that of periampullary normal mucosa and cancer specimens from patients without FAP. RESULTS: None of normal mucosa from the non-FAP patients showed a telomerase ladder. Telomerase was positively detected in three of seven normal mucosa (42.9%) and in five of seven adenoma from FAP patients (62.5%). In papillary cancer from the non-FAP patients, seven of nine tissue specimens (77.8%) showed positive activity. When semiquantitatively analyzed, the relative telomerase activity increased in accordance with the progression of the diseases. CONCLUSIONS: Telomerase is activated even in normal mucosa of FAP patients, and the intensities of telomerase may reflect the malignant potential of periampullary neoplasms.
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