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Clin Cancer Res. 2018 Sep 15;24(18):4444-4454. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-17-3401. Epub 2018 Apr 16.

Integrated Genomic and Immunophenotypic Classification of Pancreatic Cancer Reveals Three Distinct Subtypes with Prognostic/Predictive Significance.

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Institute of Pathology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Institute of Pathology, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
Department of Visceral Surgery, Insel University Hospital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Institute of Pathology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Contributed equally


Purpose: Current clinical classification of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is unable to predict prognosis or response to chemo- or immunotherapy and does not take into account the host reaction to PDAC cells. Our aim is to classify PDAC according to host- and tumor-related factors into clinically/biologically relevant subtypes by integrating molecular and microenvironmental findings.Experimental Design: A well-characterized PDAC cohort (n = 110) underwent next-generation sequencing with a hot spot cancer panel while next-generation tissue microarrays were immunostained for CD3, CD4, CD8, CD20, PD-L1, p63, hyaluronan-mediated motility receptor (RHAMM), and DNA mismatch repair proteins. Previous data on FOXP3 were integrated. Immune cell counts and protein expression were correlated with tumor-derived driver mutations, clinicopathologic features (TNM 8th edition, 2017), survival, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-like tumor budding.Results: Three PDAC subtypes were identified: the "immune escape" (54%), poor in T and B cells and enriched in FOXP3+ regulatory T cells (Treg), with high-grade budding, frequent CDKN2A, SMAD4, and PIK3CA mutations, and poor outcome; the "immune rich" (35%), rich in T and B cells and poorer in FOXP3+ Tregs, with infrequent budding, lower CDKN2A and PIK3CA mutation rate, and better outcome and a subpopulation with tertiary lymphoid tissue (TLT), mutations in DNA damage response genes (STK11 and ATM), and the best outcome; and the "immune exhausted" (11%), with immunogenic microenvironment and two subpopulations-one with PD-L1 expression and a high PIK3CA mutation rate and a microsatellite-unstable subpopulation with a high prevalence of JAK3 mutations. The combination of low budding, low stromal FOXP3 counts, presence of TLTs, and absence of CDKN2A mutations confers significant survival advantage in patients with PDAC.Conclusions: Immune host responses correlate with tumor characteristics, leading to morphologically recognizable PDAC subtypes with prognostic/predictive significance. Clin Cancer Res; 24(18); 4444-54. ©2018 AACRSee related commentary by Khalil and O'Reilly, p. 4355.

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