Pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) are the major contributor to the aggressive, metastatic, and resilient nature of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), which has a poor prognosis with a 5-year survival rate of 8%. PSCs constitute more than 50% of the tumor stroma in PDAC, where they induce extensive desmoplasia by secreting abundant extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. In addition, they establish dynamic crosstalk with cancer cells and other stromal cells, which collectively supports tumor progression via various inter- and intracellular pathways. These cellular interactions and associated pathways may reveal novel therapeutic opportunities against this unmet clinical problem. In this review article, we discuss the role of PSCs in inducing tumor progression, their crosstalk with other cells, and therapeutic strategies to target PSCs.
Keywords: cancer-associated fibroblasts; desmoplasia; pancreatic cancer; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; tumor stroma.
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