Neuroplastic changes occur early in the development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Academic Article


  • Perineural tumor invasion of intrapancreatic nerves, neurogenic inflammation, and tumor metastases along extrapancreatic nerves are key features of pancreatic malignancies. Animal studies show that chronic pancreatic inflammation produces hypertrophy and hypersensitivity of pancreatic afferents and that sensory fibers may themselves drive inflammation via neurogenic mechanisms. Although genetic mutations are required for cancer development, inflammation has been shown to be a precipitating event that can accelerate the transition of precancerous lesions to cancer. These observations led us to hypothesize that inflammation that accompanies early phases of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) would produce pathologic changes in pancreatic neurons and innervation. Using a lineage-labeled genetically engineered mouse model of PDAC, we found that pancreatic neurotrophic factor mRNA expression and sensory innervation increased dramatically when only pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia were apparent. These changes correlated with pain-related decreases in exploratory behavior and increased expression of nociceptive genes in sensory ganglia. At later stages, cells of pancreatic origin could be found in the celiac and sensory ganglia along with metastases to the spinal cord. These results demonstrate that the nervous system participates in all stages of PDAC, including those that precede the appearance of cancer.©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.
  • Published In

  • Cancer Research  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 26219821
  • Author List

  • Stopczynski RE; Normolle DP; Hartman DJ; Ying H; DeBerry JJ; Bielefeldt K; Rhim AD; DePinho RA; Albers KM; Davis BM
  • Start Page

  • 1718
  • End Page

  • 1727
  • Volume

  • 74
  • Issue

  • 6