Identification of novel mechanisms contributing to pancreatic cancer cachexia

Cachexia is a frequent problem in patients with pancreatic cancer which greatly decreases survival and quality of life. Because the mechanisms underlying the rapid course of cachexia in pancreatic cancer are largely unknown, the central aim of our research is to identify novel determinants of pancreatic cancer cachexia.

We are focusing on the potential role of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency as a cause of pancreatic cancer cachexia, and try to identify its effect on muscle protein turnover and its regulation. Another research line centers on the importance of the stroma surrounding the pancreas tumor in the development of cancer cachexia, which is composed of inflammatory as well as desmoplastic cells. Finally, we study mechanisms that explain why obese and overweight subjects with cachexia have a poorer prognosis, concentrating on the potential role of obesity-induced adipose tissue inflammation.

To this end, an existing prospective cohort of 154 pancreatic cancer patients is studied, and a comprehensive study of protein absorption, whole-body protein turnover, and muscle protein turnover in pancreatic cancer patients, in relation to the factors described above, is planned. It is expected that the data generated will help to guide better treatment strategies for patients with cancer cachexia.