The Marseille Cancer Research Center celebrates its 50th anniversary ! -

Dec 2010 Cancers

Hypoxia induced tumor metabolic switch contributes to pancreatic cancer aggressiveness.


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma remains one of the most lethal of all solid tumors with an overall five-year survival rate of only 3-5%. Its aggressive biology and resistance to conventional and targeted therapeutic agents lead to a typical clinical presentation of incurable disease once diagnosed. The disease is characterized by the presence of a dense stroma of fibroblasts and inflammatory cells, termed desmoplasia, which limits the oxygen diffusion in the organ, creating a strong hypoxic environment within the tumor. In this review, we argue that hypoxia is responsible for the highly aggressive and metastatic characteristics of this tumor and drives pancreatic cancer cells to oncogenic and metabolic changes facilitating their proliferation. However, the molecular changes leading to metabolic adaptations of pancreatic cancer cells remain unclear. Cachexia is a hallmark of this disease and illustrates that this cancer is a real metabolic disease. Hence, this tumor must harbor metabolic pathways which are probably tied in a complex inter-organ dialog during the development of this cancer. Such a hypothesis would better explain how under fuel source limitation, pancreatic cancer cells are maintained, show a growth advantage, and develop metastasis.

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