Pancreatic cancer (PC) is an aggressive malignancy with a high incidence of distant metastasis and mortality. Emerging evidence has demonstrated that pancreatic cancer stem cells (CSCs), which have the potential to self-renew and are pluripotent, are crucially important in the progression and therapy of PC. The origin of pancreatic CSCs was suggested to be pancreatic acinar cells, centroacinar cells, or acinar-ductal metaplasia. And several CSC-specific markers for pancreatic cancer have been reported, including CD133, CD24, CD44 and CXCR4. Several studies reported the molecular mechanisms regulating human pancreatic CSCs characteristics. In the progression of PC, CSCs are linked with the aggressiveness of PC with association of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). In the therapy of PC, especially chemotherapy, CSCs offer new insight into PC therapy, especially the mechanism of drug resistance. Therefore, strategies for modulating and treating CSCs can lead to novel targeted therapies for pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer, cancer stem cells, mesenchymal transition, microRNA, pancreatic stellate cells , Review