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Article

Activated Regulatory T-Cells, Dysfunctional and Senescent T-Cells Hinder the Immunity in Pancreatic Cancer

1
Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7DQ, UK
2
Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7FY, UK
3
Oncology, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK
4
Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3RE, UK
5
University of Oxford Medical School, Oxford OX1 2JD, UK
6
Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Program and Exeter College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7DQ, UK
7
Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK
8
Department of Surgery, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK
9
Department of Pathology, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK
10
Department of General, Gastrointestinal, Hepatobiliary and Transplant Surgery, RWTH Aachen University Hospital, 52074 Aachen, Germany
11
Institute of Pathology, University Hospital RWTH Aachen, 52074 Aachen, Germany
12
Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genomics, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7BN, UK
13
Oxford NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to the work.
These authors jointly directed the work.
Academic Editor: Nobuyoshi Hiraoka
Cancers 2021, 13(8), 1776; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13081776
Received: 27 February 2021 / Revised: 20 March 2021 / Accepted: 29 March 2021 / Published: 8 April 2021
Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival of any human cancer. Checkpoint blockade has not yielded much benefit in pancreatic cancer. We explored immune cell phenotypes with this disease to identify new targets for checkpoint blockade therapy. We created a checkpoint-focused panel to analyse immune cells from eight pancreatic cancer patients. This showed us the majority of T-cells are senescent. Further T-cell investigation demonstrated the majority of cytotoxic T-cells have intermediate to low PD1 expression suggesting why PD1 may not work as a pancreatic cancer therapy strategy. Our data has also highlighted a regulatory T-cell population which is highly activated and can mediate immunosuppression. The checkpoints that are highly expressed on these cells are TIGIT, ICOS and CD39, suggesting inhibition of these may be a viable therapeutic strategy. Furthermore, we showed that Tregs were retained amongst the fibroblast stroma of the tumour. Our work suggests there are key checkpoints on Tregs that may help guide therapeutic strategies in pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer has one of the worst prognoses of any human malignancy and leukocyte infiltration is a major prognostic marker of the disease. As current immunotherapies confer negligible survival benefits, there is a need to better characterise leukocytes in pancreatic cancer to identify better therapeutic strategies. In this study, we analysed 32 human pancreatic cancer patients from two independent cohorts. A multi-parameter mass-cytometry analysis was performed on 32,000 T-cells from eight patients. Single-cell RNA sequencing dataset analysis was performed on a cohort of 24 patients. Multiplex immunohistochemistry imaging and spatial analysis were performed to map immune infiltration into the tumour microenvironment. Regulatory T-cell populations demonstrated highly immunosuppressive states with high TIGIT, ICOS and CD39 expression. CD8+ T-cells were found to be either in senescence or an exhausted state. The exhausted CD8 T-cells had low PD-1 expression but high TIGIT and CD39 expression. These findings were corroborated in an independent pancreatic cancer single-cell RNA dataset. These data suggest that T-cells are major players in the suppressive microenvironment of pancreatic cancer. Our work identifies multiple novel therapeutic targets that should form the basis for rational design of a new generation of clinical trials in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. View Full-Text
Keywords: pancreatic cancer; immune checkpoints; TIGIT; CD39; ICOS; regulatory T-cells; senescent T-cells pancreatic cancer; immune checkpoints; TIGIT; CD39; ICOS; regulatory T-cells; senescent T-cells
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sivakumar, S.; Abu-Shah, E.; Ahern, D.J.; Arbe-Barnes, E.H.; Jainarayanan, A.K.; Mangal, N.; Reddy, S.; Rendek, A.; Easton, A.; Kurz, E.; Silva, M.; Soonawalla, Z.; Heij, L.R.; Bashford-Rogers, R.; Middleton, M.R.; Dustin, M.L. Activated Regulatory T-Cells, Dysfunctional and Senescent T-Cells Hinder the Immunity in Pancreatic Cancer. Cancers 2021, 13, 1776. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13081776

AMA Style

Sivakumar S, Abu-Shah E, Ahern DJ, Arbe-Barnes EH, Jainarayanan AK, Mangal N, Reddy S, Rendek A, Easton A, Kurz E, Silva M, Soonawalla Z, Heij LR, Bashford-Rogers R, Middleton MR, Dustin ML. Activated Regulatory T-Cells, Dysfunctional and Senescent T-Cells Hinder the Immunity in Pancreatic Cancer. Cancers. 2021; 13(8):1776. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13081776

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sivakumar, Shivan, Enas Abu-Shah, David J. Ahern, Edward H. Arbe-Barnes, Ashwin K. Jainarayanan, Nagina Mangal, Srikanth Reddy, Aniko Rendek, Alistair Easton, Elke Kurz, Michael Silva, Zahir Soonawalla, Lara R. Heij, Rachael Bashford-Rogers, Mark R. Middleton, and Michael L. Dustin. 2021. "Activated Regulatory T-Cells, Dysfunctional and Senescent T-Cells Hinder the Immunity in Pancreatic Cancer" Cancers 13, no. 8: 1776. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13081776

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