Mello AM, Ngodup T, Lee Y, Donahue KL, Li J, Rao A, Carpenter ES, Crawford HC, Pasca di Magliano M, and Lee KE. Hypoxia promotes an inflammatory phenotype of fibroblasts in pancreatic cancer. Oncogenesis 2022; 11(1):56.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is characterized by an extensive fibroinflammatory stroma and often experiences conditions of insufficient oxygen availability or hypoxia. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) are a predominant and heterogeneous population of stromal cells within the pancreatic tumor microenvironment. Here, we uncover a previously unrecognized role for hypoxia in driving an inflammatory phenotype in PDAC CAFs. We identify hypoxia as a strong inducer of tumor IL1ɑ expression, which is required for inflammatory CAF (iCAF) formation. Notably, iCAFs preferentially reside in hypoxic regions of PDAC. Our data implicate hypoxia as a critical regulator of CAF heterogeneity in PDAC.