In recent years, the incidence of both liver and biliary tract cancer has increased. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) are the two most common types of hepatic malignancies. Whereas HCC is the fifth most common malignant tumor in Western countries, the prevalence of CCA has taken an alarming increase from 0.3 to 2.1 cases per 100,000 people. The lack of specific biomarkers makes diagnosis very difficult in the early stages of this fatal cancer. Thus, the prognosis of CCA is dismal and surgery is the only effective treatment, whilst recurrence after resection is common. Even though chemotherapy and radiotherapy may prolong survival in patients with CCA, the 5-year survival rate is still very low-a significant global problem in clinical diagnosis and therapy. The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway plays an important role in signal transduction by converting extracellular stimuli into a wide range of cellular responses including inflammatory response, stress response, differentiation, survival, and tumorigenesis. Dysregulation of the MAPK cascade involves key signaling components and phosphorylation events that play an important role in tumorigenesis. In this review, we discuss the pathophysiological role of MAPK, current therapeutic options, and the current situation of MAPK-targeted therapies in CCA.
Keywords: cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs); cholangiocarcinoma (CCA); cholangiocytes; epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT); hepatocytes; mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK).
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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