Background: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths and its morbidity and mortality are increasing. PDAC patients have a very poor prognosis because of aggressive features of PDAC cells, shortage of reliable diagnostic biomarkers and deficiency of effective therapeutics.
Objective: The article aims to discuss the recent progress in the discovery of novel molecular targets and their related mechanisms in the invasion and metastasis of PDAC cells. Methods: Literatures based on Pubmed database were searched and those related to the molecular targets involved in the invasion and metastasis of PDAC were reviewed.
Results: The most promising discovery of molecular targets and phenomena include epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), cancer stem cells (CSCs), metastasis-related genes, hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs), non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) and L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM), which contribute to the vital biological behaviors of PDAC cells and tumor microenvironments.
Conclusion: This review summarizes recent advances in novel molecular targets that regulate the invasion and metastasis of PDAC cells, and how they are targeted for developing diagnostic and therapeutic tools for combating PDAC. Further understanding the regulatory mechanisms of these molecular targets may help to discover biomarkers used for early diagnosis, predicting the prognosis and monitoring treatment response, and also to develop novel effective therapeutics.