Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) constitutes one of the most challenging lethal tumors and has a very poor prognosis. In addition to cancer cells, the tumor microenvironment created by a repertoire of resident and recruited cells and the extracellular matrix also contribute to the acquisition of hallmarks of cancer. Among these factors, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are critical components of the tumor microenvironment. CAFs originate from the activation of resident fibroblasts and pancreatic stellate cells, the differentiation of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. CAFs acquire an activated phenotype via various cytokines and promote tumor proliferation and growth, accelerate invasion and metastasis, induce angiogenesis, promote inflammation and immune destruction, regulate tumor metabolism, and induce chemoresistance; these factors contribute to the acquisition of major hallmarks of PDAC. Therefore, an improved understanding of the impact of CAFs on the major hallmarks of PDAC will highlight the diagnostic and therapeutic values of these targeted cells.
Keywords: cancer-associated fibroblast; hallmarks of cancer; pancreatic cancer; tumor microenvironment.