Pancreatic stellate cells derived from human pancreatic cancer demonstrate aberrant SPARC-dependent ECM remodeling in 3D engineered fibrotic tissue of clinically relevant thickness

Hiroyoshi Tanaka, Kentaro Kitahara, Naoki Sasaki, Natsumi Nakao, Kae Sato, Hirokazu Narita, Hiroshi Shimoda, Michiya Matsusaki, Hiroshi Nishihara, Atsushi Masamune, Mitsunobu Kano

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Desmoplasia is a hallmark of pancreatic cancer and consists of fibrotic cells and secreted extracellular matrix (ECM) components. Various in vitro three-dimensional (3D) models of desmoplasia have been reported, but little is known about the relevant thickness of the engineered fibrotic tissue. We thus measured the thickness of fibrotic tissue in human pancreatic cancer, as defined by the distance from the blood vessel wall to tumor cells. We then generated a 3D fibrosis model with a thickness reaching the clinically observed range using pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs), the main cellular constituent of pancreatic cancer desmoplasia. Using this model, we found that Collagen fiber deposition was increased and Fibronectin fibril orientation drastically remodeled by PSCs, but not normal fibroblasts, in a manner dependent on Transforming Growth Factor (TGF)-β/Rho-Associated Kinase (ROCK) signaling and Matrix Metalloproteinase (MMP) activity. Finally, by targeting Secreted Protein, Acidic and Rich in Cysteine (SPARC) by siRNA, we found that SPARC expression in PSCs was necessary for ECM remodeling. Taken together, we developed a 3D fibrosis model of pancreatic cancer with a clinically relevant thickness and observed aberrant SPARC-dependent ECM remodeling in cancer-derived PSCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-367
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2019



  • 3D culture
  • Extracellular matrix remodeling
  • Fibrosis
  • Pancreatic stellate cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials

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