Defining Parallels between the Salivary Glands and Pancreas to Better Understand Pancreatic Carcinogenesis: A Comparative Review

A highly malignant tumor with a dismal prognosis is pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), primarily due to its late presentation. In 2015, in the Western world, PDAC was ranked fourth in terms of tumor-related mortality. In the asymptomatic phase of the disease, this is at least in part due to its rapid spread. Early detection methods, the development of accurate screening instruments, and the identification of sensitive and unique biomarkers have remained key research priorities to enhance the management and results of early patients. Histological and functional parallels are shared by the pancreas and salivary glands, and the salivary glands have shown a role in oral and systemic health. This analysis focuses on the similarities and differences between the pancreas and salivary glands and how our understanding of PDAC genesis and early diagnosis can be influenced by these. In particular, chemical exposure, which alters the transcription and morphogenesis of the salivary gland gene, may not only directly affect the regulation of salivary glands, but may also alter pancreatic function through the systemic secretion of growth hormones. An increased risk of pancreatic cancer is associated with diabetes and obesity, and a correlation between chemical exposure and the development of diabetes, obesity and, consequently, PDAC genesis is suggested. Altering salivary or pancreatic anatomy and organ function, disrupting endocrine signaling, or altering pro-inflammatory homeostasis are possible mechanisms. Finally, saliva includes biomarkers that are putative and display promise as non-invasive PDAC diagnostic methods. Finally, the essential role of salivary glands and environmental factors in pancreatic homeostatic processes and normal control of salivary gland dysfunction is illustrated in this study.

Author (s) Details

Céline Tiffon
50 Rue des Vignes, 92000 Nanterre, Hauts-de-Seine, France.

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