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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 678401, 17 pages
Review Article

Molecular Mechanisms Underlying the Role of MicroRNAs in the Chemoresistance of Pancreatic Cancer

1Department of Medical Oncology, VU University Medical Center, Cancer Center Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1117, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Speciality Medicine, University of Bologna, Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, Via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy
3HPB Surgical Unit, Department of Surgery & Cancer, Imperial College, Hammersmith Hospital Campus, White City, London W12 0NN, UK
4Phase I-Early Clinical Trials Unit, Department of Medical Oncology, Antwerp University Hospital, Wilrijkstraat 10, 2650 Edegem, Belgium
5Start-Up Unit, University of Pisa, Lungarno Pacinotti 43, 56126 Pisa, Italy

Received 2 July 2014; Accepted 28 July 2014; Published 28 August 2014

Academic Editor: Paolo Gandellini

Copyright © 2014 Ingrid Garajová et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an extremely severe disease where the mortality and incidence rates are almost identical. This is mainly due to late diagnosis and limited response to current treatments. The tumor macroenvironment/microenvironment have been frequently reported as the major contributors to chemoresistance in PDAC, preventing the drugs from reaching their intended site of action (i.e., the malignant duct cells). However, the recent discovery of microRNAs (miRNAs) has provided new directions for research on mechanisms underlying response to chemotherapy. Due to their tissue-/disease-specific expression and high stability in tissues and biofluids, miRNAs represent new promising diagnostic and prognostic/predictive biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Furthermore, several studies have documented that selected miRNAs, such as miR-21 and miR-34a, may influence response to chemotherapy in several tumor types, including PDAC. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the role of miRNAs in PDAC and recent advances in understanding their role in chemoresistance through multiple molecular mechanisms.