Current and future roles of mucins in cholangiocarcinoma—recent evidences for a possible interplay with bile acids
Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is rare but highly malignant tumour. The diagnosis is difficult due to its silent clinical character and the inefficiency of currently available diagnostic markers. An enhanced understanding of the molecular pathways involved in CCA carcinogenesis would herald targeted, individualized therapies, as well as new early diagnostic tool with improvement of patient survival. Recently, two mucin proteins, MUC4 and MUC5 have gained interest for their involvement in tumour growth and progression and possible use as diagnostic and prognostic cancer biomarkers. Moreover, a number of studies have demonstrated an association between biliary or serum bile acids (BAs) and some forms of cancers including CCA. More importantly, BAs have been shown to participate in tumour progression by inducing alterations in the expression of oncogenic mucins. This review summarizes the most important findings regarding the possible use of mucin glycoproteins and BAs in the diagnosis and prognostication of CCA and discuss evidences suggesting a role of BAs in regulating the expression of transmembrane and secreted mucins.