Fibroblasts in pancreatic cancer: molecular and clinical perspectives

Rita Rebelo, Cristina P. R. Xavier, Elisa Giovannetti, M. Helena Vasconcelos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are highly abundant cells in the pancreatic tumor microenvironment (TME) that modulate desmoplasia. The formation of a dense stroma leads to immunosuppression and therapy resistance that are major causes of treatment failure in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Recent evidence suggests that several subpopulations of CAFs in the TME can interconvert, explaining the dual roles (antitumorigenic and protumorigenic) of CAFs in PDAC and the contradictory results of CAF-targeted therapies in clinical trials. This highlights the need to clarify CAF heterogeneity and their interactions with PDAC cells. This review focuses on the communication between activated PSCs/CAFs and PDAC cells, as well as on the mechanisms underlying this crosstalk. CAF-focused therapies and emerging biomarkers are also outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-453
Number of pages15
JournalTrends in molecular medicine
Issue number6
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • biomarkers
  • cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs)
  • extracellular vesicles (EVs)
  • intercellular communication
  • pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs)
  • therapeutic approaches

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