Pancreatic Tumorigenesis: Oncogenic KRAS and the Vulnerability of the Pancreas to Obesity.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most lethal malignancies and KRAS (Kirsten rat sarcoma 2 viral oncogene homolog) mutations have been considered a critical driver of PDAC initiation and progression. However, the effects of mutant KRAS alone do not recapitulate the full spectrum of pancreatic pathologies associated with PDAC development in adults. Historically, mutant KRAS was regarded as constitutively active; however, recent studies have shown that endogenous levels of mutant KRAS are not constitutively fully active and its activity is still subject to up-regulation by upstream stimuli. Obesity is a metabolic disease that induces a chronic, low-grade inflammation called meta-inflammation and has long been recognized clinically as a major modifiable risk factor for pancreatic cancer. It has been shown in different animal models that obesogenic high-fat diet (HFD) and pancreatic inflammation promote the rapid development of mutant KRAS-mediated PDAC with high penetrance. However, it is not clear why the pancreas with endogenous levels of mutant KRAS is vulnerable to chronic HFD and inflammatory challenges. Recently, the discovery of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) as a novel anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory factor and as a downstream target of mutant KRAS has shed new light on this problem. This review is intended to provide an update on our knowledge of the vulnerability of the pancreas to KRAS-mediated invasive PDAC in the context of challenges engendered by obesity and associated inflammation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Luo, Y; Li, X; Ma, J; Abbruzzese, JL; Lu, W

Published Date

  • February 13, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 13 / 4

PubMed ID

  • 33668583

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7918840

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2072-6694

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3390/cancers13040778


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Switzerland