Lectin peroxidase histochemical analysis was carried out on pancreatic tissue from patients with pancreatic carcinoma and chronic pancreatitis and from subjects with normal pancreas to find a tumour specific pattern of lectin binding that would aid histological and cytological diagnosis. There were striking differences between the lectin binding characteristics of the different cell types in the normal pancreas. Acinar cells were uniformly positive for binding with wheat germ agglutinin and soy bean agglutinin while islet cells were usually negative for these lectins. Ulex europaeus I lectin however, was found not to be specific for endothelium, showing positivity also for acinar and ductal tissue. Griffonia simplicifolia II lectin was found to be highly specific for ductal epithelium, and because of this was tested in a hamster pancreatic cancer model where it was not specific for ductal epithelium, reflecting differing carbohydrate expression in the hamster pancreas. Pancreatic carcinomas and chronic pancreatitis bound all five lectins without any qualitative distinction from each other or from normal pancreatic tissue, but there was increased intensity of peanut agglutinin binding to secreted mucins in pancreatic carcinoma, which may be of potential use in radiolabelled lectin scanning.
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