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Gallbladder carcinoma is the most common biliary tract tumor and the fifth most common gastrointestinal tract cancer .The prognosis of gallbladder carcinoma is poor and less than 5% of the patients are still alive five years postoperatively.1 Gallbladder specimens were obtained during surgical operations performed in eleven patients for resection of a gallbladder carcinoma, and during five autopsies (control cases selected among patients who died from for other causes, excluding those suffering from biliary or hepatic diseases). Immunohistochemical characterization and distribution of neurotrophins, with their respective receptors, were analyzed. The actual role played by these neurotrophic factors in the general regulation, vascular permeability, algic responsiveness, release of locally active substances and potential tumorigenesis in the gallbladder and biliary ducts compartment remains controversial. Our study revealed an increased immunohistochemical expression of NGF and TrKA in the epithelium and in the epithelial glands of the gallbladder carcinoma together with an evident immunoreactivity for BDNF in the same neoplastic areas. An evident immunoreactivity for NGF, TrKA and BDNF was observed in control specimens of gallbladder obtained during autopsies, whereas a weak or quite absent immunoreactivity was observed in the same specimens for NT4, TrKC and p75. On the contrary an appreciable immunoreactivity for p75 was observed in the specimens harvested from patients with gallbladder carcinoma. We also investigated the expression of some known tumor markers such as MIB-1 (anti Ki-67), CD34 and CA15-3, to identify a possible correlation between the expression of these molecular factors and the prognosis of gallbladder carcinoma. They resulted highly expressed in the stroma (CD34 and CA 15-3) and in the epithelium/epithelial glands (MIB-1) of the neoplastic areas and appeared to be almost absent in the control cases, suggesting that these markers, taken together, could be adopted as a panel of prognostic factors in the evaluation of the gallbladder carcinoma.
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