Aim: Ultraviolet (UV) B irradiation induces gene expression that leads to skin cancer. Among the transcription factors induced by UVB radiation exposure, the cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB) is significant. Since several factors downstream of CREB signaling are known to be involved in pterygium pathogenesis, we investigated CREB expression in pterygial and human conjunctival tissues to evaluate if a similar expression pattern is present. Moreover, we analyzed the correlation with CREB expression and other known pterygium markers. Methods: Primary pterygium samples and normal bulbar conjunctivas surgically removed were analyzed. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues were stained by immunohistochemistry with anti-CREB, anti-vimentin, anti-ki-67, anti-survivin, anti-MMP7, anti-p63, anti-cyclin D1, or anti-p53 antibodies. Results: 94.4% of pterygium samples were positive for CREB with a significant difference compared to the control group (p = 0.002). The staining was localized in the epithelium and absent in the stroma. An increased expression was found for cyclin D1 (p = 0.019), ki-67 (p = 0.005), vimentin (p = 0.003), survivin (p < 0.001), p63 (p = 0.003), and MMP7 (p = 0.002). CREB expression showed a significant correlation with cyclin D1 (ρ = 0.49; p = 0.035), ki-67 (ρ = 0.61; p = 0.007), and p53 (ρ = 0.57; p = 0.013) in pterygium. Conclusions: These results permit to hypothesize that CREB is involved in pterygium pathogenesis. Since various molecules have been discovered to inhibit CREB, these data could be of interest for pterygium treatment.

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