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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2011, 12(11), 7424-7437; doi:10.3390/ijms12117424

Distribution and Clinical Significance of Th17 Cells in the Tumor Microenvironment and Peripheral Blood of Pancreatic Cancer Patients

1
Department of General Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou 215006, China
2
Jiangsu Institute of Hematology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou 215006, China
3
Institute of Medical Biotechnology, Soochow University, Suzhou 215006, China
4
Department of General Surgery, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Changzhou 212000, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 August 2011 / Revised: 12 October 2011 / Accepted: 19 October 2011 / Published: 28 October 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Molecular Pathology)
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Abstract

This study was designed to investigate the distribution of Th17 cells in the tumor microenvironment and peripheral blood of pancreatic cancer patients, its clinical significance, and the expression profile of Th17 cell-associated cytokines. The percentage of Th17 cells detected by flow cytometry analysis (FACS) was significantly higher in 46 pancreatic tumor tissues (5.28 ± 1.65%) compared with corresponding adjacent normal tissues (2.57 ± 0.83%) (P = 0.031). In addition, the percentage of Th17 cells was significantly higher in stage III-IV tumors than stage I-II tumors (P = 0.039). The percentage of Th17 cells in peripheral blood of 20 pancreatic cancer patients (3.99 ± 1.15%) was significantly higher than 15 healthy volunteers (1.98 ± 0.57%) (P = 0.027). Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed to detect IL-17+ cells in 46 pancreatic tumor tissues, as well as expression of CD34 in 24 tumor tissues. IL-17 was shown to mainly locate in cytoplasm, and the frequency of IL-17+ cells in tumor tissues (39/46) was higher than control (29/46). The presence of IL-17+ cells in tumor tissues was associated with tumor, node, and metastasis (TNM) stage, and lymph node metastasis (P = 0.012 and P = 0.009) but not with patient sex, age, tumor size, and histological grade (P > 0.05). Interestingly, distribution of Th17 cells in tumor tissues was positively correlated with microvessel density (MVD) (r = 0.86, P = 0.018). Furthermore, the median survival time of patients with high and low level of IL-17+ cells frequency was 14.5 and 18.5 months respectively (P = 0.023). The serum levels of Th17 cell-associated cytokines, IL-17 and IL-23 in 20 pancreatic patients detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were 69.2 ± 28.5 pg/mL and 266.5 ± 98.1 pg/mL, respectively, which were significantly higher than 15 healthy volunteers (P = 0.015 and P = 0.02). Moreover, levels of IL-17 and IL-23 were significantly higher in stage III-IV tumors than stage I-II tumors (P = 0.04 and P = 0.036). This study suggests that increase in Th17 cells frequency and its related cytokines levels in pancreatic tumor tissues may indicate involvement in the invasion and metastasis of pancreatic cancer, which may thereby affect patient prognosis. Therefore, Th17 cells and related cytokines may be served as important immune indicators for predicting the prognosis of pancreatic cancer patients. View Full-Text
Keywords: pancreatic cancer; Th17 cell; IL-17; tumor microenvironment; angiogenesis; prognosis pancreatic cancer; Th17 cell; IL-17; tumor microenvironment; angiogenesis; prognosis
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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He, S.; Fei, M.; Wu, Y.; Zheng, D.; Wan, D.; Wang, L.; Li, D. Distribution and Clinical Significance of Th17 Cells in the Tumor Microenvironment and Peripheral Blood of Pancreatic Cancer Patients. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2011, 12, 7424-7437.

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