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Authors Drifka CR, Loeffler AG, Esquibel CR, Weber SM, Eliceiri KW, Kao WJ
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Journal Biomed Microdevices Volume: 18 Issue: 6 Pages: 105
Publish Date 2016 Dec
PubMed ID 27819128

A hallmark of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the ability for cancer cells to aggressively infiltrate and navigate through a dense stroma during the metastatic process. Key features of the PDAC stroma include an abundant population of activated pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) and highly aligned collagen fibers; however, important questions remain regarding how collagen becomes aligned and what the biological manifestations are. To better understand how PSCs, aligned collagen, and PDAC cells might cooperate during the transition to invasion, we utilized a microchannel-based in vitro tumor model and advanced imaging technologies to recreate and examine in vivo-like heterotypic interactions. We found that PSCs participate in a collaborative process with cancer cells by orchestrating the alignment of collagen fibers that, in turn, are permissive to enhanced cell migration. Additionally, direct contact between PSCs, collagen, and PDAC cells is critical to invasion and co-migration of both cell types. This suggests PSCs may accompany and assist in navigating PDAC cells through the stromal terrain. Together, our data provides a new role for PSCs in stimulating the metastatic process and underscores the importance of collagen alignment in cancer progression. Copyright © 2017 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System