Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) and pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanINs) are important premalignant lesions of pancreatic cancer. Ezrin is a member of the ezrin, radixin, and moesin protein family and acts as a cross-linker between the plasma membrane and the actin cytoskeleton. We investigated the roles of ezrin during carcinogenesis in IPMN and invasive ductal carcinoma and examined whether ezrin was a prognostic factor. We examined ezrin and phosphorylated ezrin (p-ezrin) expression in 131 IPMNs, 47 PanINs, and 59 invasive ductal carcinomas by immunohistochemical staining. Ezrin and p-ezrin (tyr354) expressions were significantly higher in IPMN with an associated invasive carcinoma, compared with those in IPMN with high-grade dysplasia (P =.03 and P =.0007, respectively). In all grades of PanINs, ezrin and p-ezrin (tyr353) were highly expressed. In patients with invasive ductal carcinoma, the presence of PanIN-2 or PanIN-3 was significantly correlated with positive ezrin and p-ezrin (tyr353) expression of the invasive ductal carcinoma component (P =.01 and P =.0004). The negative p-ezrin (tyr353) expression group of invasive ductal carcinoma showed a significantly worse prognosis than did the positive p-ezrin (tyr353) expression group by survival analysis (P =.04) and was a statistically significant adverse prognostic factor by both univariate and multivariate analyses (P =.048 and P =.015). Ezrin phosphorylation sites differ between the developments of IPMN and PanIN. Although p-ezrin (tyr354) expression in IPMNs is associated with tumor invasion, p-ezrin (tyr353) expression in invasive ductal carcinoma plays an important role not in tumor invasion and metastasis but in the early development of PanINs.
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