Analyzing Flow Cytometry or Targeted Gene Expression Data Influences Clinical Discoveries—Profiling Blood Samples of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Patients

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Monitoring the therapeutic response of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patients is crucial to determine treatment strategies. Several studies have examined the effectiveness of FOLFIRINOX as a first-line treatment in patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer, but little attention has been paid to the immunologic alterations in peripheral blood caused by this chemotherapy regimen. Furthermore, the influence of the measurement type (e.g., flow cytometry and targeted gene expression) on the clinical discoveries is unknown. Therefore, we aimed to scrutinize the influence of using flow cytometry or targeted immune gene expression to study the immunological changes in blood samples of PDAC patients who were treated with a single-cycle FOLFIRINOX combined with lipegfilgrastim (FFX-Lipeg). 

Material and Methods: 

Whole-blood samples from 44 PDAC patients were collected at two time points: before the first FOLFIRINOX cycle and 14 days after the first cycle. EDTA blood tubes were used for multiplex flow cytometry analyses to quantify 18 immune cell populations and for complete blood count tests as the standard clinical routine. The flow cytometry data were analyzed with FlowJo software. In addition, Tempus blood tubes were used to isolate RNA and measure 1230 immune-related genes using NanoString Technology®. Data quality control, normalization, and analysis were performed using nSolver™ software and the Advanced Analysis module. 


FFX-Lipeg treatment increased the number of neutrophils and monocytes, as shown by flow cytometry and complete blood count in concordance with elevated gene expression measured via targeted gene expression profiling analysis. Interestingly, flow cytometry analysis showed an increase in the number of B and T cells after treatment, while targeted gene expression analysis showed a decrease in B and T cell-specific gene expression. 


Targeted gene expression complements flow cytometry analysis to provide a comprehensive understanding of the effects of FFX-Lipeg. Flow cytometry and targeted gene expression showed increases in neutrophils and monocytes after FFX-Lipeg. The number of lymphocytes is increased after treatment; nevertheless, their cell-specific gene expression levels are downregulated. This highlights that different techniques influence clinical discoveries. Therefore, it is important to carefully select the measurement technique used to study the effect of a treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4349
Number of pages15
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was made possible with the support of Support Casper (

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


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