Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is one of the most lethal human cancers. Its precursor lesions include pancreatic intra-epithelial neoplasia, mucinous cystic neoplasm, and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN). IPMNs usually present as an incidental finding at imaging in 2.6% of the population and, according to the degree of dysplasia, they are classified as low- or high-grade lesions. Since the risk of malignant transformation is not accurately predictable, the management of these lesions is based on morphological and clinical parameters, such as presence of mural nodule, main pancreatic duct dilation, presence of symptoms, or high-grade dysplasia. Although the main genetic alterations associated to IPMNs have been elucidated, they are still not helpful for disease risk stratification. The growing body of genomic and epigenomic studies along with the more recent development of organotypic cultures provide the opportunity to improve our understanding of the malignant transformation process, which will likely deliver biomarkers to help discriminate between low- and high-risk lesions. Recent insights on the topic are herein summarized.
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