AIMS: To investigate whether genetic or inflammatory pro-oncogenic factors are relevant to the increased risk of gallbladder cancers in patients with pancreaticobiliary maljunction (PBM). METHODS AND RESULTS: Mutations in KRAS exon 2 were examined by a highly sensitive, droplet digital PCR platform using surgically resected specimens of PBM-associated (n = 31) and non-associated gallbladder cancers (n = 49). The tissue expression of IL-6 and IL-33, which are suspected to promote biliary carcinogenesis, was analysed by quantitative real-time PCR and in-situ hybridisation. The incidence of KRAS mutations was similarly low in PBM-associated (five of 32 cases; 16%) and non-associated cancers (four of 49 cases; 8%) (P = 0.272). The tissue expression of IL-33 mRNA, but not IL-6 mRNA, was significantly higher in PBM-associated gallbladder cancers than in gallbladder cancers without PBM (P = 0.004). A similar degree of IL-33 overexpression was also observed in the background non-cancerous mucosa in cases of PBM-associated gallbladder cancers, and was significantly greater than that in PBM cases with cholecystitis alone (P < 0.001). The results of in-situ hybridisation indicated that the source of IL-33 production in PBM-associated carcinomas was the endothelium, cancer cells and non-neoplastic biliary epithelium. In a combined PBM-associated and non-associated cohort, IL-33 overexpression in gallbladder cancers correlated with less aggressive features (e.g. a lower pT stage and longer overall survival), similar to recently reported findings on large-duct cholangiocarcinomas. CONCLUSIONS: KRAS mutations do not appear to be associated with a high risk of malignancy in PBM, while IL-33 overexpression may provide a pro-oncogenic microenvironment in the gallbladder mucosa of patients with PBM.