Drug resistance in pancreatic cancer: Impact of altered energy metabolism

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2017 Jun:114:139-152. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2017.03.026. Epub 2017 Mar 23.


Pancreatic cancer is a highly deadly disease: almost all patients develop metastases and conventional treatments have little impact on survival. Therapeutically, this tumor is poorly responsive, largely due to drug resistance. Accumulating evidence suggest that this chemoresistance is intimately linked to specific metabolic aberrations of pancreatic cancer cells, notably an increased use of glucose and the amino acid glutamine fueling anabolic processes. Altered metabolism contributes also to modulation of apoptosis, angiogenesis and drug targets, conferring a resistant phenotype. As a modality to overcome chemoresistance, a variety of experimental compounds inhibiting key metabolic pathways emerged as a promising approach to potentiate the standard treatments for pancreatic cancer in preclinical studies. These results warrant confirmation in clinical trials. Thus, this review summarizes the impact of metabolic aberrations from the perspective of drug resistance and discusses possible novel applications of metabolic inhibition for the development of more effective drugs against pancreatic cancer.

Keywords: Cancer metabolism; Drug resistance; New metabolically-targeted agents; Pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents