Pancreatic cancer stemness: dynamic status in malignant progression

J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2023 May 13;42(1):122. doi: 10.1186/s13046-023-02693-2.


Pancreatic cancer (PC) is one of the most aggressive malignancies worldwide. Increasing evidence suggests that the capacity for self-renewal, proliferation, and differentiation of pancreatic cancer stem cells (PCSCs) contribute to major challenges with current PC therapies, causing metastasis and therapeutic resistance, leading to recurrence and death in patients. The concept that PCSCs are characterized by their high plasticity and self-renewal capacities is central to this review. We focused specifically on the regulation of PCSCs, such as stemness-related signaling pathways, stimuli in tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment (TME), as well as the development of innovative stemness-targeted therapies. Understanding the biological behavior of PCSCs with plasticity and the molecular mechanisms regulating PC stemness will help to identify new treatment strategies to treat this horrible disease.

Keywords: Cancer stem cells; Pancreatic cancer; Plasticity; Stemness; Tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Microenvironment

Supplementary concepts

  • Pancreatic Carcinoma