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Ireland, Lucy; Santos, Almudena; Ahmed, Muhammad S.; Rainer, Carolyn; Nielsen, Sebastian R.; Quaranta, Valeria; Weyer-Czernilofsky, Ulrike; Engle, Danielle D.; Perez-Mancera, Pedro A.; Coupland, Sarah E.; Taktak, Azzam; Bogenrieder, Thomas; Tuveson, David A.; Campbell, Fiona; Schmid, Michael C. and Mielgo, Ainhoa (2016): Chemoresistance in Pancreatic Cancer Is Driven by Stroma-Derived Insulin-Like Growth Factors. In: Cancer Research, Vol. 76, No. 23: pp. 6851-6863

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Tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) and myofibroblasts are key drivers in cancer that are associated with drug resistance in many cancers, including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). However, our understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which TAM and fibroblasts contribute to chemoresistance is unclear. In this study, we found that TAM and myofibroblasts directly support chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer cells by secreting insulin-like growth factors (IGF) 1 and 2, which activate insulin/IGF receptors on pancreatic cancer cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of biopsies from patients with pancreatic cancer revealed that 72% of the patients expressed activated insulin/IGF receptors on tumor cells, and this positively correlates with increased CD163(+) TAM infiltration. In vivo, we found that TAM and myofibroblasts were the main sources of IGF production, and pharmacologic blockade of IGF sensitized pancreatic tumors to gemcitabine. These findings suggest that inhibition of IGF in combination with chemotherapy could benefit patients with PDAC, and that insulin/IGF1R activation may be used as a biomarker to identify patients for such therapeutic intervention. (C) 2016 AACR.

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