Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has a 5-year survival rate of less than 4% and desperately needs novel effective therapeutics. Integrin αvβ6 has been linked with poor prognosis in cancer but its potential as a target in PDAC remains unclear. We report that transcriptional expression analysis revealed that high levels of β6 mRNA correlated strongly with significantly poorer survival (n = 491 cases, p = 3.17 × 10-8 ). In two separate cohorts, we showed that over 80% of PDACs expressed αvβ6 protein and that paired metastases retained αvβ6 expression. In vitro, integrin αvβ6 promoted PDAC cell growth, survival, migration, and invasion. Treatment of both αvβ6-positive human PDAC xenografts and transgenic mice bearing αvβ6-positive PDAC with the αvβ6 blocking antibody 264RAD, combined with gemcitabine, significantly reduced tumour growth (p < 0.0001) and increased survival (log-rank test, p < 0.05). Antibody therapy was associated with suppression of tumour cell activity (suppression of pErk growth signals, increased apoptosis seen as activated caspase-3) and suppression of the pro-tumourigenic microenvironment (suppression of TGFβ signalling, fewer αSMA-positive myofibroblasts, decreased blood vessel density). These data show that αvβ6 promotes PDAC growth through both tumour cell and tumour microenvironment mechanisms and represents a valuable target for PDAC therapy. © 2019 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
Keywords: 264RAD; PDAC; cancer; integrin; mouse model; pancreas; transgenic; αvβ6.
© 2019 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.