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J Gastroenterol. 2008;43(11):823-32. doi: 10.1007/s00535-008-2249-7. Epub 2008 Nov 18.

Mechanisms of pancreatic fibrosis and applications to the treatment of chronic pancreatitis.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Tokyo Women's Medical University, School of Medicine, 8-1 Kawada, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8666, Japan.


Pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) play a crucial role in pancreatic fibrogenesis in chronic pancreatitis and in the desmoplastic reaction of pancreatic cancer. When PSCs are stimulated by oxidative stress, ethanol and its metabolite acetaldehyde, and cytokines, the phenotype of quiescent fat-storing cells converts to myofibroblastlike activated PSCs, which then produce extracellular matrix, adhesion molecules, and various chemokines in response to cytokines and growth factors. Recent data suggest that PSCs have a phagocytic function. Plateletderived growth factor is a potent stimulator of PSC proliferation. Transforming growth factor beta, activin A, and connective tissue growth factor also play a role in PSC-mediated pancreatic fibrogenesis through autocrine and paracrine loops. Following pancreatic damage, pathophysiological processes that occur in the pancreas, including pancreas tissue pressure, hyperglycemia, intracellular reactive oxygen species production, activation of protease-activated receptor 2, induction of cyclooxygenase 2, and bacterial infection play a role in sustaining pancreatic fibrosis through increased PSC proliferation and collagen production by PSCs. Targeting PSCs might be an effective therapeutic approach in chronic pancreatitis. Various substances including vitamin A, vitamin E, polyphenols, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma ligands, and inhibitors of the renin-angiotensin system show great promise of being useful in the treatment of chronic pancreatitis.

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