The hepatic microenvironment and trail-r2 impact outgrowth of liver metastases in pancreatic cancer after surgical resection

Susanne Sebens*, Lauritz Miarka, Charlotte Hauser, Ole Helm, Dörthe Holdhof, Silje Beckinger, Jan Hendrik Egberts, Jan Paul Gundlach, Lennart Lenk, Sascha Rahn, Wolfgang Mikulits, Anna Trauzold

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Most patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) undergoing curative resection relapse within months, often with liver metastases. The hepatic microenvironment determines induction and reversal of dormancy during metastasis. Both tumor growth and metastasis depend on the Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand-receptor 2 (TRAIL-R2). This study investigated the interplay of TRAIL-R2 and the hepatic microenvironment in liver metastases formation and the impact of surgical resection. Although TRAIL-R2-knockdown (PancTu-I shTR2) decreased local relapses and number of macroscopic liver metastases after primary tumor resection in an orthotopic PDAC model, the number of micrometastases was increased. Moreover, abdominal surgery induced liver inflammation involving activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) into hepatic myofibroblasts (HMFs). In coculture with HSCs, proliferation of PancTu-I shTR2 cells was significantly lower compared to PancTu-I shCtrl cells, an effect still observed after switching coculture from HSC to HMF, mimicking surgery-mediated liver inflammation and enhancing cell proliferation. CXCL-8/IL-8 blockade diminished HSC-mediated growth inhibition in PancTu-I shTR2 cells, while Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) neutralization decreased HMF-mediated proliferation. Overall, this study points to an important role of TRAIL-R2 in PDAC cells in the interplay with the hepatic microenvironment during metastasis. Resection of primary PDAC seems to induce liver inflammation, which might contribute to outgrowth of liver metastases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number745
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Inflammation
  • Liver metastasis
  • Liver microenvironment
  • Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
  • Surgery
  • TRAIL-R2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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