Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is associated with significant fibrosis. Recent findings have highlighted the profibrotic activity of tissue-resident macrophages in the pancreatic cancer microenvironment. Here, we show that neoplastic pancreatic epithelium, as well as a subset of tissue-resident macrophages, expresses the prolactin-receptor (PRLR). High mobility group box 1-induced prolactin expression in the pancreas maintained FAK1 and STAT3 phosphorylation within the epithelium and stroma. Gain-of-function and loss-of-function experiments demonstrated the essential role of prolactin in promoting collagen deposition and fibrosis. Finally, the signaling cascade downstream of prolactin/ PRLR activated STAT3 rather than STAT5 in PDAC. These findings suggest that targeting prolactin together with IL6, a known major activator of STAT3, could represent a novel therapeutic strategy for treating pancreatic cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research