Telomerase activity is detected in pancreatic cancer but not in benign tumors

Eiso Hiyama, Takashi Kodama, Kanae Shinbara, Toshiyasu Iwao, Masaki Itoh, Keiko Hiyama, Jerry W. Shay, Yuichiro Matsuura, Takashi Yokoyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

226 Scopus citations


Activation of telomerase and stabilization of telomeres are considered to be necessary for immortalization of human tumor cells. In the present study, telomerase activity was detected in 41 (95%) of 43 pancreatic cancer specimens but was detectable in none of 11 benign pancreatic tumors and only one of 3 pancreatitis samples. Low levels of telomerase activity were detected in 5 (14%) of 36 adjacent 'normal' pancreatic tissues. These five telomerase-positive 'normal' specimens were obtained from patients that also had pancreatic cancer and may reflect occult microinvasion. Telomerase activity was examined in 12 ex vivo brushing samples of the pancreatic duct, and 8 of 8 with pancreatic cancer had detectable telomerase activity, whereas 0 of 4 of benign lesions (cystadenoma and pancreatitis) did. These findings suggest that telomerase activity in cells derived from pancreatic ducts may be useful in the diagnosis of cancer and that telomerase activity may be a critical or rate-limiting step in pancreatic carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-331
Number of pages6
JournalCancer research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 28 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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