UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pathology

Publication Date


Document Type



Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Biological Factors | Diagnosis | Immunopathology | Investigative Techniques | Neoplasms | Pathological Conditions, Signs and Symptoms | Pathology


Background: Diagnosing pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) in the setting of metastasis with an unknown primary remains very challenging due to the lack of specific biomarkers. HNF-1B has been characterized as an important transcription factor for pancreatic development and was reported as a biomarker for clear cell subtype of PDAC.

Methods: To investigate the diagnostic role of HNF-1B for PDAC, we used tissue microarray (TMA) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) to characterize HNF-1B expression in a large cohort of carcinomas, including 127 primary PDACs, 47 biliary adenocarcinomas, 17 metastatic PDACs, and 231 non-pancreaticobiliary carcinomas.

Results: HNF-1B was expressed in 107 of 127 (84.3%) of PDACs, 13 of 15 (86.7%) of cholangiocarcinomas, 13 of 18 (72%) of ampullary carcinomas, and 13 of 14 (92.9%) of gallbladder adenocarcinomas. Notably, HNF-1B was expressed in 16 of 17 (94.1%) of metastatic PDACs. Among the non-pancreaticobiliary cancers, HNF-1B was expressed in ~ 77% clear cell carcinomas of the kidney and ovarian clear cell carcinomas. Gastroesophageal, lung, and prostate adenocarcinomas occasionally expressed HNF-1B in up to 37% cases. HNF-1B was completely negative in hepatocellular, colorectal, breast, and lung squamous cell carcinomas. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy of HNF-1B for primary pancreaticobiliary carcinoma is 84, 68, 66, 85, and 75%, respectively. HNF-1B expression was not significantly associated with overall survival in patients with PDAC, but tumor size > /=2 cm and high tumor grade were significantly associated with worse overall survival in multivariate analyses.

Conclusions: HNF-1B may be used in surgical pathology to aid the diagnosis of metastatic pancreatic and biliary carcinoma with a panel of other markers to exclude lung, kidney, prostate, and Mullerian origins.


Adenocarcinoma, HNF-1B, Immunohistochemistry, Pancreatic, Pancreaticobiliary, Tissue microarray

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© The Author(s). 2018 Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

DOI of Published Version



Biomark Res. 2018 Jul 27;6:25. doi: 10.1186/s40364-018-0139-6. eCollection 2018. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Biomarker research

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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