ARTICLE ABSTRACTThe cytokine milieu in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) promotes tumor progression and immune suppression, contributing to the dismal prognosis of patients with PDAC. The roles of many of these cytokines, however, have not been thoroughly investigated in PDAC.
PDAC microarray and The Cancer Genome Atlas datasets were analyzed to identify cytokines and cognate receptors overexpressed in PDAC and associated with survival. Pathway and CIBERSORT analyses were used to elucidate potential mechanisms of altered patient survival. Comparative analysis of cytokine expression in KPC (K-rasG12D; TP53R172H; Pdx-1cre) and KC (K-rasG12D; Pdx-1cre) PDAC models and multicolor immunofluorescence (IF) staining of human PDAC–resected samples were used to validate these findings.
CXCL9 and CXCL10 were among the most highly overexpressed cytokines by bioinformatics analyses, while their receptor, CXCR3, was significantly overexpressed by IHC analysis. Higher CXCR3 ligand expression was associated with shorter overall survival, while high CXCR3 expression was associated with better survival. The CXCR3 ligands, CXCL4, 9, and 10, were overexpressed in KPC compared with KC mice. Pathway analysis of CXCR3- and CXCR3 ligand–associated genes showed that CXCR3 is a marker of antitumor immunity, while its ligands may promote immunosuppression. CIBERSORT and IF studies of PDAC tissues demonstrated that high CXCR3 expression was associated with increased CD8+ T-cell and naïve B-cell signatures and loss of plasma cell signatures. CXCR3 ligand expression was associated with increased CD8+ T-cell signatures and loss of natural killer–cell signatures.
CXCR3 ligands are overexpressed in PDAC and are associated with poor survival likely related to alterations in tumor immune infiltrate/activity.