Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The pancreatic cancer phenotype is primarily a consequence of oncogenes disturbing the resident pancreas parenchymal cell repair program. Many solid tumor types including pancreatic cancer have severe tumor fibrosis called desmoplasia. Desmoplastic stroma is coopted by the tumor as a support structure and CAFs aid in tumor growth, invasion, and metastases. This stroma is caused by cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs), which lay down extensive connective tissue in and around the tumor cells. CAFs represent a heterogeneous population of cells that produce various paracrine molecules such as transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and platelet derived growth factors (PDGFs) that aid tumor growth, local invasion, and development of metastases. The hard, fibrotic shell of desmoplasia serves as a barrier to the infiltration of both chemo- and immunotherapy drugs and host immune cells to the tumor. Although there have been recent improvements in chemotherapy and surgical techniques for management of pancreatic cancer, the majority of patients will die from this disease. Therefore, new treatment strategies are clearly needed. CAFs represent an under-explored potential therapeutic target. This paper discusses what we know about the role of CAFs in pancreatic cancer cell growth, invasion, and metastases. Additionally, we present different strategies that are being and could be explored as anti-CAF treatments for pancreatic cancer.
View details for DOI 10.3390/cancers12051347
View details for PubMedID 32466266