TGFbeta-induced fibrogenesis of the pancreas

Int J Gastrointest Cancer. 2002;31(1-3):41-6. doi: 10.1385/IJGC:31:1-3:41.


The biological cause of fibrosis is the accumulation of excessive amounts of extracellular matrix (ECM) which leads to tissue dysfunction and organ failure. A strong correlation can be found between pancreatic diseases and fibrotic processes, in particular chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. There is growing evidence that pancreatic fibrosis represents a dysregulation of the normal repair processes after injury. This concept is based on the findings that fibrosis and tissue repair involve similar biological reactions regulated by the same group of molecules. The best characterized example for these regulatory molecules are the members of the transforming growth factor beta family (TGFbeta). TGFbeta1 represents the prototype of this family of highly similar growth factors, with the unique ability to stimulate the expression and deposition of extracellular matrix and to inhibit its degradation. Growth factor-induced fibrotic events are targeted by a myofibroblast-like cell called pancreatic stellate cell (PSC). These cells show enhanced expression of all-important ECM proteins after TGFbeta stimulation including collagen, fibronectin and proteoglycans. At the same time TGFbeta inhibits the degradation of ECM by blocking the secretion of proteases and stimulating the production of naturally occurring protease inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Endopeptidases / pharmacology
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Fibrosis / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / pharmacology*


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Collagen
  • Endopeptidases