Targeting Fibrosis: The Bridge That Connects Pancreatitis and Pancreatic Cancer

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 May 7;22(9):4970. doi: 10.3390/ijms22094970.


Pancreatic fibrosis is caused by the excessive deposits of extracellular matrix (ECM) and collagen fibers during repeated necrosis to repair damaged pancreatic tissue. Pancreatic fibrosis is frequently present in chronic pancreatitis (CP) and pancreatic cancer (PC). Clinically, pancreatic fibrosis is a pathological feature of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. However, many new studies have found that pancreatic fibrosis is involved in the transformation from pancreatitis to pancreatic cancer. Thus, the role of fibrosis in the crosstalk between pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer is critical and still elusive; therefore, it deserves more attention. Here, we review the development of pancreatic fibrosis in inflammation and cancer, and we discuss the therapeutic strategies for alleviating pancreatic fibrosis. We further propose that cellular stress response might be a key driver that links fibrosis to cancer initiation and progression. Therefore, targeting stress proteins, such as nuclear protein 1 (NUPR1), could be an interesting strategy for pancreatic fibrosis and PC treatment.

Keywords: NUPR1; pancreatic cancer; pancreatic fibrosis; pancreatitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Pancreatitis / pathology*
  • Stress, Physiological