Role of growth factors in pancreatic cancer

Surg Oncol Clin N Am. 1998 Jan;7(1):25-41.


Human pancreatic cancers overexpress a number of important tyrosine growth factor receptors and their ligands. These include the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) and related receptors, multiple ligands that bind to EGFR, certain fibroblast growth factors (FGF) receptors (FGFR) and ligands, and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and its receptor. The excessive activation of mitogenic signaling cascades that are modulated by these overexpressed ligands and receptors is compounded by the presence of mutations in the K-ras oncogene. Pancreatic cancers also overexpress transforming growth factor betas (TGF-betas) that usually inhibit the growth of epithelial cells. Pancreatic cancers, however, underexpress the type I TGF-beta receptor and harbor mutations in the smad4 gene, alterations that prevent TGF-betas from inhibiting cancer cell growth but that do not confer onto pancreatic actions that promote cancer growth in vivo. Together, these perturbations confer onto pancreatic cancer cells a tremendous growth advantage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • ErbB Receptors / physiology
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / physiology
  • Growth Substances / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Receptors, Growth Factor / physiology
  • Somatomedins / physiology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology


  • Growth Substances
  • Receptors, Growth Factor
  • Somatomedins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • ErbB Receptors