Pancreatic cancer is known for its dismal prognosis despite efforts to improve therapeutic outcome. Recently, cancer nanomedicine, application of nanotechnology to cancer diagnosis and treatment, has gained interest for treatment of pancreatic cancer. The enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect that promotes selective accumulation of nanometer-sized molecules within tumors is the theoretical rationale of treatment. However, it is clear that EPR may be insufficient in pancreatic cancer as a result of stromal barriers within the tumor microenvironment (TME). These limit intratumoral accumulation of macromolecules. The TME and stromal barriers inside it consist of various stromal cell types which interact both with each other and with tumor cells. We are only beginning to understand the complexities of the stromal barriers within the TME and its functional consequences for nanomedicine. Understanding the complex crosstalk between barrier stromal cells is challenging because of the difficulty of modeling pancreatic cancer TME. Here we provide an overview of stromal barriers within the TME. We also describe the preclinical models, both in vivo and in vitro, developed to study them. We furthermore discuss the critical gaps in our understanding, and how we might formulate a better strategy for using nanomedicine against pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2085-2092
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • drug delivery
  • nanomedicine
  • pancreatic cancer
  • stromal barrier
  • tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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