Cathepsin E expression and activity: Role in the detection and treatment of pancreatic cancer

Corbin Pontious, Sabrina Kaul, Marcus Hong, Phil A. Hart, Somashekar G. Krishna, Luis F. Lara, Darwin L. Conwell, Zobeida Cruz-Monserrate

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Cathepsin E (CTSE) is an intracellular, hydrolytic aspartic protease found to be expressed in cells of the immune and gastrointestinal systems, lymphoid tissues, erythrocytes, and cancer cells. The precise functions are not fully understood; however, various studies have investigated its numerous cell-type specific roles. CTSE expression has been shown to be a potential early biomarker for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). PDAC patients have low survival rates mostly due to the lack of early detection methods. CTSE-specific activity probes have been developed and tested to assist in tumor imaging and functional studies investigating the role of CTSE expression in PDAC tumors. Furthermore, a CTSE protease-specific, photodynamic therapy pro-drug was developed to explore its potential use to treat tumors that express CTSE. Since CTSE is expressed in pancreatic diseases that are risk factors for PDAC, such as pancreatic cysts and chronic pancreatitis, learning about its function in these disease types could assist in early PDAC detection and in understanding the biology of PDAC progression. Overall, CTSE expression and activity shows potential to detect PDAC and other pancreatic diseases. Further research is needed to fully understand its functions and potential translational applicability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)951-956
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research in this publication was supported by: the ORIEN Foundation (ZC-M), The National Pancreas Foundation (ZC-M), The National Cancer Institute (NCI) R01CA223204 (ZC-M), and by the NCI and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) under award number U01DK108327 (DC, ZC-M, PH). This work was also supported in part by the Pelotonia Fellowship Program (SK) and the OSUCCC-Kenyon Student Summer Program (MH). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Pelotonia Fellowship Program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 IAP and EPC


  • Cathepsin E
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Early detection biomarker
  • Pancreatic cyst lesions
  • PDAC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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