Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Pancreatic tumors are minimally infiltrated by T cells and are largely refractory to immunotherapy. Accordingly, the role of T-cell immunity in pancreatic cancer has been somewhat overlooked. Here, we hypothesized that immune resistance in pancreatic cancer was induced in response to antitumor T-cell immune responses and that understanding how pancreatic tumors respond to immune attack may facilitate the development of more effective therapeutic strategies. We now provide evidence that T-cell–dependent host immune responses induce a PDAC-derived myeloid mimicry phenomenon and stimulate immune resistance. Three KPC mouse models of pancreatic cancer were used: the mT3-2D (Krasþ/LSL-G12D; Trp53þ/LSL-R172H; Pdx1-Cre) subcutaneous and orthotopic models, as well as the KP1 (p48-CRE/LSL-Kras/Trp53flox/flox) subcutaneous model. KPC cancer cells were grown in immunocompetent and immunodeficient C57BL/6 mice and analyzed to determine the impact of adaptive immunity on malignant epithelial cells, as well as on whole tumors. We found that induced T-cell antitumor immunity, via signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1), stimulated malignant epithelial pancreatic cells to induce the expression of genes typically expressed by myeloid cells and altered intratumoral immunosuppressive myeloid cell profiles. Targeting the Janus Kinase (JAK)/STAT signaling pathway using the FDA-approved drug ruxolitinib overcame these tumor-protective responses and improved anti–PD-1 therapeutic efficacy. These findings provide future directions for treatments that specifically disable this mechanism of resistance in PDAC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research