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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009 Nov;7(11 Suppl):S44-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2009.07.039.

Desmoplasia of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

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Pancreatic Research Group, Department of Medicine, VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System and University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA.


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most common form of pancreatic cancer and is characterized by remarkable desmoplasia. The desmoplasia is composed of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, myofibroblastic pancreatic stellate cells, and immune cells associated with a multitude of cytokines, growth factors, and ECM metabolizing enzymes. The mechanisms of participation of this complex matrix process in carcinogenesis are only starting to be appreciated. Recent studies showed key roles for stellate cells in the production of ECM proteins as well as cytokines and growth factors that promote the growth of the cancer cells all present in the desmoplastic parts of PDAC. In addition, interactions of ECM proteins and desmoplastic secreted growth factors with the cancer cells of PDAC activate intracellular signals including reactive oxygen species that act to make the cancer cells resistant to dying. These findings suggest that the desmoplasia of PDAC is a key factor in regulating carcinogenesis of PDAC as well as responses to therapies. A better understanding of the biology of desmoplasia in the mechanism of PDAC will likely provide significant opportunities for better treatments for this devastating cancer.

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