Literature data suggest that inflammatory cells such as mast cells (MCs) are involved in angiogenesis. MCs can stimulate angiogenesis by releasing of well identified pro-angiogenic cytokines stored in their cytoplasm. In particular, MCs can release tryptase, a potent in vivo and in vitro pro-angiogenic factor. Nevertheless, few data are available concerning the role of MCs positive to tryptase in primary pancreatic cancer angiogenesis. This study analyzed the correlation between mast cells positive to c-Kit receptor (c-Kit+ MCs), the density of MCs expressing tryptase (MCD-T) and microvascular density (MVD) in primary tumor tissue from patients affected by pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). A series of 35 PDAC patients with stage T2-3N0-1M0 (by AJCC for Pancreas Cancer Staging 7th Edition) were selected and then undergone to surgery. Tumor tissue samples were evaluated by mean of immunohistochemistry and image analysis methods in terms of number of c-Kit+ MCs, MCD-T and MVD. The above parameters were related each other and with the most important main clinico-pathological features. A significant correlation between c-Kit+ MCs, MCD-T and MVD groups each other was found by Pearson t-test analysis (r ranged from 0.75 to 0.87; p-value ranged from 0.01 to 0.04). No other significant correlation was found. Our in vivo preliminary data, suggest that tumor microenvironmental MCs evaluated in terms of c-Kit+ MCs and MCD-T may play a role in PDAC angiogenesis and they could be further evaluated as a novel tumor biomarker and as a target of anti-angiogenic therapy.
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