Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease with dismal prognosis. The tumor microenvironment is composed by multiple cell types, molecular factors, and extracellular matrix forming a strong desmoplastic reaction, which is a hallmark of the disease. A complex cross-talk between tumor cells and the stroma exists with reciprocal influence that dictates tumor progression and ultimately the clinical outcome. In this context, tumor infiltrating immune cells through secretion of chemokine and cytokines exert an important regulatory role. Here we review the correlation between the immune infiltrates, evaluated on tumor samples of pancreatic cancer patients underwent surgical resection, and disease free and/or overall survival after surgery. Specifically, we focus on tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), mast cells (MCs) and macrophages that all contribute to a Th2-type inflammatory and immunosuppressive microenvironment. In these patients tumor immune infiltrates not only do not contribute to disease eradication but rather the features of Th2-type inflammation and immunosuppression is significantly associated with more rapid disease progression and reduced survival.
Keywords: macrophages; mast cells; pancreatic cancer; survival predictive factor; tumor infiltrating lymphocytes; univariate and multivariate analyses.