Expression of aldo-keto reductase family 1 member C3 (AKR1C3) in neuroendocrine tumors & adenocarcinomas of pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, and lung

Theodore S. Chang, Hsueh Kung Lin, Kyle A. Rogers, Lacy S. Brame, Matthew M. Yeh, Qing Yang, Kar Ming Fung

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10 Scopus citations


Human aldo-keto reductase family 1 member C3 (AKR1C3) was initially identified as an enzyme in reducing 5α-dihydrotestosterone (5α-DHT) to 5α-androstane-3α, 17β-diol (3α-diol) and oxidizing 3α-diol to androsterone. It was subsequently demonstrated to possess ketosteroid reductase activity in metabolizing other steroids including estrogen and progesterone, 11-ketoprostaglandin reductase activity in metabolizing prostaglandins, and dihydrodiol dehydrogenase x (DDx) activity in metabolizing xenobiotics. AKR1C3 was demonstrated in sex hormone-dependent tissues including testis, breast, endometrium, and prostate; in sex hormone-independent tissues including kidney and urothelium. Our previous study described the expression of AKR1C3 in squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma but not in small cell carcinoma. In this report, we studied the expression of AKR1C3 in normal tissue, adenocarcinomas (43 cases) and neuroendocrine (NE) tumors (40 cases) arising from the aerodigestive tract and pancreas. We demonstrated wide expression of AKR1C3 in superficially located mucosal cells, but not in NE cells. AKR1C3-positive immunoreactivity was detected in 38 cases (88.4%) of adenocarcinoma, but only in 7 cases (17.5%) of NE tumors in all cases. All NE tumors arising from the pancreas and appendix and most tumors from the colon and lung were negative. The highest ratio of positive AKR1C3 in NE tumors was found in tumors arising from the small intestine (50%). These results raise the question of AKR1C3's role in the biology of normal mucosal epithelia and tumors. In addition, AKR1C3 may be a useful adjunct marker for the exclusion of the NE phenotype in diagnostic pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2419-2429
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2013



  • Adenocarcinomas
  • Aldo-keto reductase family 1 member C3 (AKR1C3)
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Pancreas

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