Metabolism and epigenetics of pancreatic cancer stem cells

M. Perusina Lanfranca, J. K. Thompson, F. Bednar, C. Halbrook, C. Lyssiotis, B. Levi, T. L. Frankel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Pancreatic Cancer (PDA) is an aggressive malignancy characterized by early spread and a high mortality. Current studies suggest that a subpopulation of cells exist within tumors, cancer stem cell (CSC), which are capable of self-renewal and give rise to unique progeny which form the major neoplastic cellular component of tumors. While CSCs constitute a small cellular subpopulation within the tumor, their resistance to chemotherapy and radiation make them an important therapeutic target for eradication. Along with distinctive phenotypic properties, CSCs possess a unique metabolic plasticity allowing them to rapidly respond and adapt to environmental changes. These cells and their progeny also display a significantly altered epigenetic state with distinctive patterns of DNA methylation. Several mechanisms of cross-talk between epigenetic and metabolic pathways in PDA exist which ultimately contribute to the observed cellular plasticity and enhanced tumorigenesis. In this review we discuss various examples of this metabolic-epigenetic interplay and how it may constitute a new avenue for therapy specifically targeting CSCs in PDA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
JournalSeminars in Cancer Biology
StatePublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Acinar-ductal-metaplasia
  • Cancer stem cells
  • Epigenetics
  • Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition
  • Metabolism
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Stemness


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