Quantitative Spatial Profiling of Immune Populations in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Reveals Tumor Microenvironment Heterogeneity and Prognostic Biomarkers
Cancer Research, September 2022
Haoyang Mi, Shamilene Sivagnanam, Courtney B. Betts, Shannon M. Liudahl, Elizabeth M. Jaffee, Lisa M. Coussens, Aleksander S. Popel
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly aggressive disease with poor 5-year survival rates, necessitating identification of novel therapeutic targets. Elucidating the biology of the tumor immune microenvironment (TiME) can provide vital insights into mechanisms of tumor progression. In this study, we developed a quantitative image processing platform to analyze sequential multiplexed immunohistochemistry data from archival PDAC tissue resection specimens. A 27-plex marker panel was employed to simultaneously phenotype cell populations and their functional states, followed by a computational workflow to interrogate the immune contextures of the TiME in search of potential biomarkers. The PDAC TiME reflected a low-immunogenic ecosystem with both high intratumoral and intertumoral heterogeneity. Spatial analysis revealed that the relative distance between IL-10+ myelomonocytes, PD-1+ CD4+ T cells, and Granzyme B+ CD8+ T cells correlated significantly with survival, from which a spatial proximity signature termed imRS was derived that correlated with PDAC patient survival. Furthermore, spatial enrichment of CD8+ T cells in lymphoid aggregates was also linked to improved survival. Altogether, these findings indicate that the PDAC TiME, generally considered immuno-dormant or immunosuppressive, is a spatially-nuanced ecosystem orchestrated by ordered immune hierarchies. This new understanding of spatial complexity may guide novel treatment strategies for PDAC.
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