Article Title

Autophagy: A key player in pancreatic cancer progression and a potential drug target

Abstract

Pancreatic cancer is known to have the lowest survival outcomes among all major cancers, and unfortunately, this has only been marginally improved over last four decades. The innate characteristics of pancreatic cancer include an aggressive and fast-growing nature from powerful driver mutations, a highly defensive tumor microenvironment and the upregulation of advantageous survival pathways such as autophagy. Autophagy involves targeted degradation of proteins and organelles to provide a secondary source of cellular supplies to maintain cell growth. Elevated autophagic activity in pancreatic cancer is recognized as a major survival pathway as it provides a plethora of support for tumors by supplying vital resources, maintaining tumour survival under the stressful microenvironment and promoting other pathways involved in tumour progression and metastasis. The combination of these features is unique to pancreatic cancer and present significant resistance to chemotherapeutic strategies, thus, indicating a need for further investigation into therapies targeting this crucial pathway. This review will outline the autophagy pathway and its regulation, in addition to the genetic landscape and tumor microenvironment that contribute to pancreatic cancer severity. Moreover, this review will also discuss the mechanisms of novel therapeutic strategies that inhibit autophagy and how they could be used to suppress tumor progression.

Keywords

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, Autophagy, Tumor microenvironment, Stress, Autophagy inhibitors

Link to Publisher Version (URL)

10.3390/cancers14143528

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