Inflammatory macrophages in pancreatic acinar cell metaplasia and initiation of pancreatic cancer

Oncoscience. 2015 Mar 28;2(3):247-51. doi: 10.18632/oncoscience.151. eCollection 2015.


The roles of inflammatory macrophages in pancreatic tissue and the development of pancreatic cancer have not been well characterized. Recently it was shown that inflammatory macrophages, besides their function in clearing dead cells, also initiate pancreatic acinar cell metaplasia to duct-like progenitor cells. While in pancreatitis this is a reversible process, in context of an oncogenic stimulus this process is irreversible and can lead to the formation of precancerous lesions. Recent work now indicates that acquisition of an activating Kras mutation in acinar cells initiates signaling that leads to chemoattraction of M1-poliarized macrophages. This oncogene-caused chronic microinflammation can accelerate the pathogenesis of pancreatic cancers.