Background and Aims: The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein is a small conductance adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP)activated chloride ion channel found in the apical membranes of epithelia within the pancreas, airway, intestine, bile duct, sweat gland, and male genital ducts. Pancreatic insufficiency is a feature of about 85% of patients with cystic fibrosis and is believed to be caused by pancreatic autolysis after pancreatic duct obstruction. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of CFTR in the pancreas from early development to postnatal life to establish whether the CFTR plays a key role in development of the pancreatic duct epithelium. Methods: Expression of CFTR from the start of the mid-trimester of human development through term to adult life by messenger RNA (mRNA) in situ hybridization was examined. Results: CFTR mRNA is detected throughout the pancreatic duct epithelium and its pattern of expression follows the differentiation of the duct system. Conclusions: CFTR is a valuable marker of human pancreatic duct cell development and differentiation.
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