Mossakowski Medical Research Centre Polish Academy of Sciences, Department of Surgical Research and Transplantology 5 Pawinskiego Str, 02-106 Warsaw, POLAND.
Background: Research over the last twenty years has yielded much insight into pancreatic cancer biology, but it has neither improved diagnostics methods nor the way of treatment. The question remains as to what the critical deciding factor is in making pancreatic cancer such an aggressive disease.
Methods: Pancreatic tumor tissue came from 36 patients. To assess lymphatic vessels color lymphangiography and immunohistochemistry were used. Activity of matrix metalloproteinases was studied with gel and in situ zymography. Expression of growth factors and infiltrating immune cells were investigated using immunohistochemistry.
Results: Our study revealed that the structures that correspond to lymphatic vessels were not observed in tumor center but only at the edge of the tumor. All studied growth factors were present in tumor tissue. We found that the difference in expression between G2 and G3 stage was statistically relevant in cases of c-Met receptor. Inflammatory cells were present around neoplastic glands and also strongly around nerves infiltrated by cancer cells. The number of infiltrating macrophages in tumor tissue was significantly higher in group with metastases to lymph nodes.
Conclusion: We showed two factors that influence pancreatic cancer progression and invasion: c-Met receptors and macrophages infiltrating tumor tissue. Based on our analysis, this indicates that epithelial-mesenchymal transition might be crucial in the progression of pancreatic cancer.
Keywords: pancreatic cancer, growth factors, matrix metalloproteinases, lymphangiogenesis, microenvironment.