ARTICLE ABSTRACTPancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a lethal malignancy with few effective therapeutic options. PDAC is characterized by an extensive fibroinflammatory stroma that includes abundant infiltrating immune cells. Tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) are prevalent within the stroma and are key drivers of immunosuppression. TAMs in human and murine PDAC are characterized by elevated expression of apolipoprotein E (ApoE), an apolipoprotein that mediates cholesterol metabolism and has known roles in cardiovascular and Alzheimer's disease but no known role in PDAC. We report here that ApoE is also elevated in peripheral blood monocytes in PDAC patients, and plasma ApoE protein levels stratify patient survival. Orthotopic implantation of mouse PDAC cells into syngeneic wild-type or in ApoE−/− mice showed reduced tumor growth in ApoE−/− mice. Histologic and mass cytometric (CyTOF) analysis of these tumors showed an increase in CD8+ T cells in tumors in ApoE−/− mice. Mechanistically, ApoE induced pancreatic tumor cell expression of Cxcl1 and Cxcl5, known immunosuppressive factors, through LDL receptor and NF-κB signaling. Taken together, this study reveals a novel immunosuppressive role of ApoE in the PDAC microenvironment.
This study shows that elevated apolipoprotein E in PDAC mediates immune suppression and high serum apolipoprotein E levels correlate with poor patient survival.See related commentary by Sherman, p. 4186