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Carcinogenesis. 2013 Oct;34(10):2193-7. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgt249. Epub 2013 Jul 10.

Role of bacterial infections in pancreatic cancer.

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Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Brown University, Box G-S121-2, Providence, RI 02912, USA and.


Established risk factors for pancreatic cancer, including tobacco smoking, chronic pancreatitis, obesity and type 2 diabetes, collectively account for less than half of all pancreatic cancer cases. Inflammation plays a key role in pancreatic carcinogenesis, but it is unclear what causes local inflammation, other than pancreatitis. Epidemiological data suggest that Helicobacter pylori may be a risk factor for pancreatic cancer, and more recently, data suggest that periodontal disease, and Porphyromonas gingivalis, a pathogen for periodontal disease, may also play a role in pancreatic carcinogenesis. Individuals with periodontal disease have elevated markers of systemic inflammation, and oral bacteria can disseminate into the blood, stomach, heart and even reach the brain. These infections may contribute to the progression of pancreatic cancer by acting jointly with other pancreatic cancer risk factors that impact the inflammation and immune response, such as smoking and obesity, and the ABO genetic variant, recently linked to pancreatic cancer through genome-wide association studies. The complex interplay between bacteria, host immune response and environmental factors has been examined closely in relation to gastric cancer, but new research suggests bacteria may be playing a role in other gastrointestinal cancers. This review will summarize the literature on epidemiological studies examining infections that have been linked to pancreatic cancer and propose mechanistic pathways that may tie infections to pancreatic cancer.

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