The splanchnic mesenchyme is the tissue of origin for pancreatic fibroblasts during homeostasis and tumorigenesis

Nat Commun. 2023 Jan 3;14(1):1. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-34464-6.


Pancreatic cancer is characterized by abundant desmoplasia, a dense stroma composed of extra-cellular and cellular components, with cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) being the major cellular component. However, the tissue(s) of origin for CAFs remains controversial. Here we determine the tissue origin of pancreatic CAFs through comprehensive lineage tracing studies in mice. We find that the splanchnic mesenchyme, the fetal cell layer surrounding the endoderm from which the pancreatic epithelium originates, gives rise to the majority of resident fibroblasts in the normal pancreas. In a genetic mouse model of pancreatic cancer, resident fibroblasts expand and constitute the bulk of CAFs. Single cell RNA profiling identifies gene expression signatures that are shared among the fetal splanchnic mesenchyme, adult fibroblasts and CAFs, suggesting a persistent transcriptional program underlies splanchnic lineage differentiation. Together, this study defines the phylogeny of the mesenchymal component of the pancreas and provides insights into pancreatic morphogenesis and tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis / genetics
  • Carcinogenesis / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Pancreas* / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / metabolism