SEP 27, 2021 3:00 AM PDT

Inflammation Promotes Pancreatic Cancer Progression

WRITTEN BY: Katie Kokolus

Inflammation occurs when the immune response, including immune cells and mediators they produce, protect you from dangerous pathogens like viruses and bacteria.  In addition to attacking foreign invaders, many conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, and diabetes, are linked to inflammation.

The association between cancer and inflammation was documented as early as 1863 when Rudolf Virchow found white blood cells, also known as leukocytes, infiltrating neoplastic tissue.  Today, while the relationship between cancer and inflammation is more fully understood, researchers are actively exploring specific biological mechanisms involved.  

A study recently published in Science clarifies some of the mechanisms underlying inflammation-associated pancreatic cancer.  The research team investigated the impact of inflammation on the cells lining the pancreas, known as pancreatic epithelial cells.

Researchers induced inflammation in a mouse model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).  Inflammatory cells infiltrated and proliferated in the pancreatic tissue following induction of inflammation.  Without further intervention, the inflammation began to resolve within a week and the immune cell profile returned to pre-induction levels in less than a month.   

The study also explored the effect of inflammation on KRAS-driven pancreatic cancer, which is representative of 95% of PDACs. Following activation of KRAS in the murine system, mice exposed to inflammation experienced accelerated tumor growth and succumbed to disease, while control mice were largely unaffected.  

Surprisingly, even when KRAS was activated three months following the inflammatory event, the tumors in mice exposed to inflammation progressed significantly faster than in control mice.  These findings suggest that inflammation imposes long-lasting alterations in pancreatic epithelial cells.  Further, when in the presence of mutant KRAS, these reprogrammed cells promote cancer progression.

Following inflammation, extensive molecular analysis of pancreatic epithelial cells demonstrated considerable modifications in gene expression.  Many of the genes activated post-inflammation, including those associated with cell survival and proliferation, have well-established roles in tumor development. The authors describe the genetic alterations that were still evident long after the inflammation resolved as epithelial memory.   

The study solidifies specific mechanisms involved in inflammation-associated pancreatic cancer.  As pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest five-year survival rates among all cancer sites, these findings are valuable to researchers as they continue to seek life-saving treatments for pancreatic cancer.

 

Sources: Inflammation1863leukocytesneoplasticScience95%five year survival

About the Author
  • PhD in Tumor Immunology. I am interested in developing novel strategies to improve the efficacy of immunotherapies used to extend cancer survivorship.
You May Also Like
JUN 10, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Does Lithium Prevent Colon Cancer?
JUN 10, 2021
Does Lithium Prevent Colon Cancer?
Researchers found that a drug used in the treatment of mental illness can promote the fitness of healthy gut stem cells, ...
JUN 07, 2021
Cancer
Inflammatory-rich diet associated with greater risk of developing breast cancer
JUN 07, 2021
Inflammatory-rich diet associated with greater risk of developing breast cancer
A breakthrough study soon to be presented at NUTRITION 2021 LIVE ONLINE later this week reports that women who main ...
JUN 06, 2021
Cancer
New drug reduces tumor size in lung cancer patients with KRAS gene mutation
JUN 06, 2021
New drug reduces tumor size in lung cancer patients with KRAS gene mutation
The most recent results from the CODEBREAK 100 phase 2 clinical trial support the use of the drug sotorasib to reduce tu ...
JUN 21, 2021
Cancer
Analyzing breast implant topography and associated immune responses
JUN 21, 2021
Analyzing breast implant topography and associated immune responses
In an effort to understand how breast implants influence the immune system, researchers from MIT have led an analysis to ...
AUG 01, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Rethinking the Cause of Mutations That Lead to Melanoma
AUG 01, 2021
Rethinking the Cause of Mutations That Lead to Melanoma
Throughout our lives, new cells often replace the ones that become damaged or worn out. As cells divide, they have to re ...
OCT 07, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Color-Changing Slides Improve Accuracy in Cancer Diagnosis
OCT 07, 2021
Color-Changing Slides Improve Accuracy in Cancer Diagnosis
When cancer is diagnosed, a sample has to be taken from a patient, treated, and analyzed. Researchers have now modified ...
Loading Comments...