Growth factors and cytokines in pancreatic carcinogenesis

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1999 Jun 30;880:110-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1999.tb09515.x.


Pancreatic cancer is a deadly disease challenging basic and clinical researchers alike in characterizing its pathobiology and finding better treatment options. A number of molecular alterations including gene mutations such as k-ras, p53, and Smad4 and aberrant expression of a variety of genes have been identified in recent years. This review focuses on two families of growth factors and growth factor receptors which are representative for the molecular alterations observed in pancreatic cancer: the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily of serine-threonine kinase receptors and their ligands, which usually act as negative growth regulators, and the epidermal growth factor receptor family and their ligands, which have the potential to act as growth promoters in pancreatic cancer. In addition, we will discuss the role of the cytokines TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, and IL-6 and its effects on pancreatic cancer cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo. Pancreatic cancer cell biology consists of complex interactions of various factors, and a better understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of this disorder might lead to better treatment strategies in the near future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cells
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Growth Substances / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Growth Factor / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Growth Substances
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Growth Factor
  • ErbB Receptors