Purpose: Patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) who undergo surgical resection and adjuvant chemotherapy have an expected survival of only 2 years due to disease recurrence, frequently in the liver. We investigated the role of liver macrophages in progression of PDAC micrometastases to identify adjuvant treatment strategies that could prolong survival.Experimental Design: A murine splenic injection model of hepatic micrometastatic PDAC was used with five patient-derived PDAC tumors. The impact of liver macrophages on tumor growth was assessed by (i) depleting mouse macrophages in nude mice with liposomal clodronate injection, and (ii) injecting tumor cells into nude versus NOD-scid-gamma mice. Immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry were used to measure CD47 ("don't eat me signal") expression on tumor cells and characterize macrophages in the tumor microenvironment. In vitro engulfment assays and mouse experiments were performed with CD47-blocking antibodies to assess macrophage engulfment of tumor cells, progression of micrometastases in the liver and mouse survival.Results:In vivo clodronate depletion experiments and NOD-scid-gamma mouse experiments demonstrated that liver macrophages suppress the progression of PDAC micrometastases. Five patient-derived PDAC cell lines expressed variable levels of CD47. In in vitro engulfment assays, CD47-blocking antibodies increased the efficiency of PDAC cell clearance by macrophages in a manner which correlated with CD47 receptor surface density. Treatment of mice with CD47-blocking antibodies resulted in increased time-to-progression of metastatic tumors and prolonged survival.Conclusions: These findings suggest that following surgical resection of PDAC, adjuvant immunotherapy with anti-CD47 antibody could lead to substantially improved outcomes for patients. Clin Cancer Res; 24(6); 1415-25. ©2017 AACR.
©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.