Copyright ©The Author(s) 2018. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Aug 7, 2018; 24(29): 3222-3238
Published online Aug 7, 2018. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i29.3222
ATP-binding cassette transporters in progression and clinical outcome of pancreatic cancer: What is the way forward?
Aleksandra Adamska, Marco Falasca
Aleksandra Adamska, Marco Falasca, Metabolic Signalling Group, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth 6102, WA, Australia
Author contributions: Both authors equally contributed to the conception and realization of the review.
Supported by Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.
Conflict-of-interest statement: No potential conflicts of interest.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: Marco Falasca, PhD, Professor, Metabolic Signalling Group, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth 6102, WA, Australia.
Telephone: +61-8-92669712
Received: May 2, 2018
Peer-review started: May 4, 2018
First decision: May 17, 2018
Revised: May 31, 2018
Accepted: June 27, 2018
Article in press: June 27, 2018
Published online: August 7, 2018

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most aggressive diseases and is characterized by high chemoresistance, leading to the lack of effective therapeutic approaches and grim prognosis. Despite increasing understanding of the mechanisms of chemoresistance in cancer and the role of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters in this resistance, the therapeutic potential of their pharmacological inhibition has not been successfully exploited yet. In spite of the discovery of potent pharmacological modulators of ABC transporters, the results obtained in clinical trials have been so far disappointing, with high toxicity levels impairing their successful administration to the patients. Critically, although ABC transporters have been mostly studied for their involvement in development of multidrug resistance (MDR), in recent years the contribution of ABC transporters to cancer initiation and progression has emerged as an important area of research, the understanding of which could significantly influence the development of more specific and efficient therapies. In this review, we explore the role of ABC transporters in the development and progression of malignancies, with focus on PDAC. Their established involvement in development of MDR will be also presented. Moreover, an emerging role for ABC transporters as prognostic tools for patients’ survival will be discussed, demonstrating the therapeutic potential of ABC transporters in cancer therapy.

Keywords: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, Multi-drug resistance, ATP-binding cassette transporters, Targeted therapies, Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma prognosis, Predictive markers

Core tip: Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers due to its highly aggressive biology and resistance to broad range of therapeutics. Expression of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters by cancer cells is one of the main mechanisms responsible for the lowered drug accumulation. However, the attempts made in multidrug resistance reversal by the inhibition of their activity have not provided satisfactory results in clinical trials. Nevertheless, current knowledge on the role played by ABC transporters in carcinogenesis beyond chemoresistance, could create the opportunity for the development of novel, direct targeted therapeutic strategies. Additionally, the association between ABC transporters expression and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma patients’ prognosis and response to applied therapies confirms their pharmacological potential.