Solid and Pseudopapillary Tumor of the Pancreas—Review and New Insights Into Pathogenesis

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Solid pseudopapillary tumors (SPT) of the pancreas are rare neoplasms that occur mostly in young women. Despite of a low malignant potential, 10% to 15% of the cases have aggressive behavior with metastatic dissemination possibly leading to death. To date, no pathological factor can reliably predict the outcome of these tumours. Galectin-3, a major actor in the carcinogenesis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, has not been investigated in SPT. The presence of progesterone receptors is frequently reported in SPT, whereas that of estrogen receptor (ER) is unclear. We studied 5 cases of SPT consisting of 4 pancreatic tumors and 1 metastatic case. The morphological distinctive feature of metastatic nodules was the presence of polygonal or spindle cells with pleiomorphic nuclei and high mitotic count exhibiting a diffuse, infiltrative growth pattern. We found a strong expression of galectin-3 in all SPTs, whereas, interestingly, it was lower in metastatic nodules. Conversely, no galectin-3 expression was found in normal pancreatic endocrine cells or in neuroendocrine tumors. We suggest therefore that galectin-3 is a useful marker to distinguish SPT from neuroendocrine tumor, and also indicator of behavior because its low expression is associated with metastatic spreading. Moreover, the presence of galectin-3 in both SPT and pancreatic ducts rises the hypothesis of a posible ductal origin of these tumors. Specific antibodies for anti-ERα and anti-ERβ demonstrated a strong expression of ERβ whereas ERα was not detected. In conclusion, the present study brings the first evidence of the involvement of galectin-3 in SPT but also brought up clues which allowed to reconcile previously conflicting results on the presence of ER.

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