Spatial genomics reveals a high number and specific location of B cells in the pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma microenvironment of long-term survivors

Hosein M. Aziz, Lawlaw Saida, Willem de Koning, Andrew P. Stubbs, Yunlei Li, Kostandinos Sideras, Elena Palacios, Jaime Feliu, Marta Mendiola, Casper H. J. van Eijck, Dana A. M. Mustafa

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Background and aim: Only 10% of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patients survive longer than five years. Factors underlining long-term survivorship in PDAC are not well understood. Therefore, we aimed to identify the key players in the tumor immune microenvironment (TIME) associated with long-term survivorship in PDAC patients. Methods: The immune-related gene expression profiles of resected PDAC tumors of patients who survived and remained recurrence-free of disease for ≥36 months (long-term survivors, n=10) were compared to patients who had survived ≤6 months (short-term survivors, n=10) due to tumor recurrence. Validation was performed by the spatial protein expression profile of immune cells using the GeoMx™ Digital Spatial Profiler. An independent cohort of samples consisting of 12 long-term survivors and 10 short-term survivors, was used for additional validation. The independent validation was performed by combining qualitative immunohistochemistry and quantitative protein expression profiling. Results: B cells were found to be significantly increased in the TIME of long-term survivors by gene expression profiling (p=0.018). The high tumor infiltration of B cells was confirmed by spatial protein profiling in the discovery and the validation cohorts (p=0.002 and p=0.01, respectively). The higher number of infiltrated B cells was found mainly in the stromal compartments of PDAC samples and was exclusively found within tumor cells in long-term survivors. Conclusion: This is the first comprehensive study that connects the immune landscape of gene expression profiles and protein spatial infiltration with the survivorship of PDAC patients. We found a higher number and a specific location of B cells in TIME of long-term survivors which emphasizes the importance of B cells and B cell-based therapy for future personalized immunotherapy in PDAC patients.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number995715
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2023

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Copyright © 2023 Aziz, Saida, de Koning, Stubbs, Li, Sideras, Palacios, Feliu, Mendiola, van Eijck and Mustafa.


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