Background: The host immune reaction is represented by immune/inflammatory cell infiltrates. Here we systematically analysed tumour-infiltrating immune/inflammatory cells in pancreatic ductal carcinoma (PDC) and evaluated their clinicopathological impact.
Methods: Using immunohistochemistry, we examined tumour-infiltrating CD68(+) pan-macrophages, HLA-DR(+)CD68(+) M1 macrophages (M1), CD163(+) or CD204(+) M2 macrophages (M2), CD66b(+) neutrophils (Neu), CD4(+) T cells (CD4(+)T), CD8(+) T cells (CD8(+)T), and FOXP3(+)CD4(+) regulatory T cells (Treg) in 212 cases of PDC, and conducted correlation and survival analyses using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards model.
Results: Higher levels of tumour-infiltrating pan-macrophages, M2, Neu, or the ratio of Tregs to CD4(+)T (%Treg) were significantly associated with shorter survival, whereas higher levels of tumour-infiltrating CD4(+)T, CD8(+)T, or the ratio of M1 to pan-macrophages (%M1) were significantly associated with longer survival. Survival analysis of pairs of these variables revealed that some of the resulting patient groups had exclusively longer survival. We then connected the apparently related factors, and two significant variables emerged: tumour-infiltrating CD4(+)T(high)/CD8(+)T(high)/%Treg(low) and tumour-infiltrating %M1(high)/M2(low). Multivariate survival analysis revealed that these variables were significantly correlated with longer survival and had a higher hazard ratio.
Conclusion: Tumour-infiltrating CD4(+)T(high)/CD8(+)T(high)/%Treg(low) and %M1(high)/M2(low) are independent prognosticators useful for evaluating the immune microenvironment of PDC.