Integrated Bioinformatics Analysis Identifies Crucial Biochemical Processes Shared between Pancreatitis and Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma

Document Type : Research Articles


1 School of Mathematics and Statistics and Computational Systems Biology Group, Children’s Medical Research Institute, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

2 Department of Bioinformatics, Manipal School of Life Sciences, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Karnataka, India.

3 Université Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, CEA, Grenoble, France.

4 Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Manipal School of Life Sciences, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Karnataka, India.


Background: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly aggressive malignancy associated with rapid progression and an abysmal prognosis. Previous research has shown that chronic pancreatitis can significantly increase the risk of developing PDAC. The overarching hypothesis is that some of the biological processes disrupted during the inflammatory stage tend to show significant dysregulation, even in cancer. This might explain why chronic inflammation increases the risk of carcinogenesis and uncontrolled proliferation. Here, we try to pinpoint such complex processes by comparing the expression profiles of pancreatitis and PDAC tissues. Methods: We analyzed a total of six gene expression datasets retrieved from the EMBL-EBI ArrayExpress and NCBI GEO databases, which included 306 PDAC, 68 pancreatitis and 172 normal pancreatic samples. The disrupted genes identified were used to perform downstream analysis for ontology, interaction, enriched pathways, potential druggability, promoter methylation, and the associated prognostic value. Further, we performed expression analysis based on gender, patient’s drinking habit, race, and pancreatitis status. Results: Our study identified 45 genes with altered expression levels shared between PDAC and pancreatitis. Over-representation analysis revealed that protein digestion and absorption, ECM-receptor interaction, PI3k-Akt signaling, and proteoglycans in cancer pathways as significantly enriched. Module analysis identified 15 hub genes, of which 14 were found to be in the druggable genome category. Conclusion: In summary, we have identified critical genes and various biochemical processes disrupted at a molecular level. These results can provide valuable insights into certain events leading to carcinogenesis, and therefore help identify novel therapeutic targets to improve PDAC treatment in the future.