Immune cells are important in the pathogenesis of acute pancreatitis and determine disease severity. Results from cytokine-based clinical trials for acute pancreatitis have been disappointing, so strategies that target and alter the behavior of infiltrating immune cells require consideration. Recurrent acute pancreatitis can progress to chronic pancreatitis, which is a well-described risk factor for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). However, most patients with chronic pancreatitis do not develop PDA, and most patients with PDA do not have a history of pancreatitis. Interestingly, chronic pancreatitis and PDA tissues have similarities in their desmoplasia and inflammatory infiltrates, indicating overlapping inflammatory responses. Further studies are needed to determine the differences and similarities of these responses, improve our understanding of PDA pathogenesis, and develop specific immune-based therapies. Immune cells in PDA produce immunosuppressive signals that allow tumors to evade the immune response. Unlike single therapeutic agent studies that block immunosuppressive mechanisms, studies of combination therapies that include therapeutic vaccines have provided promising results.
Copyright © 2013 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.