Expression of Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone and Its Receptors May Be Associated With Survival Rate in Pancreatic Cancer

Open AccessPublished:September 15, 2022DOI:

      Background and Aims

      Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is a major regulator of the stress response to internal and external factors. CRH and its receptors (CRHR1 and CRHR2) are expressed in the central nervous system and some cancer cells, suggesting the importance of CRH signaling in pancreatic cancers. However, the clinicopathological significance of CRH remains unknown because the immunolocalization of CRH, CRHR1, and CRHR2 has not been examined in pancreatic carcinoma tissues. We clarified the correlation of the expression of CRH and its receptors with overall survival in pancreatic cancer.


      This study evaluated 96 patients with pancreatic cancer who underwent microscopic complete resection (R0) but not neoadjuvant chemotherapy from 1988 to 2007 at Tohoku University Hospital, Japan. CRH, CRHR1, and CRHR2 immunoreactivity were detected in the pancreatic carcinoma cells. Overall survival curves were generated according to the Kaplan–Meier method.


      CRHR1 immunoreactivity was significantly associated with an increased risk of poorer prognosis in all patients (P = .038) and the adjuvant therapy group (P = .022). Overall survival was worse in the CRHR1-positive group than in the CRHR1-negative group among the 62 patients treated with gemcitabine hydrochloride (P = .046) and the 22 patients treated with other drugs (P = .047). CRHR1 expression was correlated with survival in univariate analysis but not in multivariate analysis.


      This study is the first to immunolocalize CRH, CRHR1, and CRHR2 in pancreatic carcinoma tissues and to examine the biological prognosis. This study revealed that survival in patients with pancreatic cancer was significantly associated with expression of CRHR1 by assessing biological progression according to CRH and the expression of its receptors. However, CRHR1 expression was correlated with survival in univariate analysis but not in multivariate analysis.

      Graphical abstract


      Abbreviations used in this paper:

      CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone), CRHR1 (CRH receptor 1), CRHR2 (CRH receptor 2), GEM (gemcitabine hydrochloride)
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