Vascular and ductal elastotic changes in pancreatic cancer

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This study aims to identify and define the type and frequency of elastotic alterations of vessels and ducts in pancreatic ductal carcinoma (PDAC) and evaluate its diagnostic significance. Representative tissue from 36 Whipple specimens, stained with Verhoeff's Van-Gieson, was studied focusing on the density and distribution of elastic fibers in walls of vessels and ducts, in perivascular and periductal tissue and in tumor stroma. Vessels and ducts within the carcinoma, at tumor periphery and in non-tumoral pancreas were grouped and examined separately. Vimentin and α-SMA immunostains were used for the depiction of fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. Histochemistry revealed mild to severe elastotic changes of vessels and ducts in all examined cases. Vascular and ductal elastosis was more prominent within the tumor and diminished at tumor periphery. In tumor stroma and non-tumoral pancreatic tissue mild or no elastosis was identified. α-SMA+ cells were observed in large numbers in tumor stroma and as a ring around carcinomatous structures. There were scant α-SMA+ cells around elastotic and non-elastotic vessels. Conclusively, vascular and ductal elastosis is a tumor-associated phenomenon in PDAC. Its presence is indicative of benignity acquiring a possible diagnostic role.

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