Identify potential prognostic indicators and tumor-infiltrating immune cells in pancreatic adenocarcinoma

Biosci Rep. 2022 Feb 25;42(2):BSR20212523. doi: 10.1042/BSR20212523.


Background: Pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PAAD) is a kind of highly malignant tumor and lacks early diagnosis method and effective treatment. Tumor microenvironment (TME) is of great importance for the occurrence and development of PAAD. Thus, a comprehensive overview of genes and tumor-infiltrating immune cells (TICs) related to TME dynamic changes conduce to develop novel therapeutic targets and prognostic indicators.

Methods: We used MAlignant Tumors using Expression data (ESTIMATE) algorithm to analyze the transcriptome RNA-seq data of 182 PAAD cases on The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) platform. Gene Ontology (GO), Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG), protein-protein interaction (PPI) network, COX regression analysis and gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) were carried out to get the hub genes related to the prognosis of PAAD patients. These core genes were validated in GEPIA. CXCL10 expression as a poor prognostic indicator was validated in GEO database. Finally, CIBERSORT algorithm was applied to understand the status of TICs.

Results: A total of 715 up-regulated differential expression genes (DEGs) and 57 down-regulated DEGs were found simultaneously in stromal and immune groups. These DEGs were mainly enriched in immune recognition, activation and response processes. CD4, CXCL12, CXCL10, CCL5 and CXCL9 were the top five core genes. Then, the validation of these genes showed that CD4, CXCL10, CXCL5, CXCL9 were up-regulated in PAAD. Among the core genes, CXCL10 had a negative correlation with the survival time of PAAD patients. CD8+ T cells, CD4+ T cells memory activated, macrophages M1 had positive correlation of CXCL10 expression, whereas regulatory T cells (Tregs), macrophages M0 and B cells memory had negative correlation.

Conclusion: We generated a series of genes related to TME with prognostic implications and TICs in PAAD, which have the potential to be novel immunotherapy targets and prognostic markers. The data showed that CXCL10 was favorable as a poor prognostic indicator in PAAD patients.

Keywords: pancreatic adenocarcinoma; tumor microenvironment; tumor-infiltrating immune cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma* / pathology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics


  • Biomarkers, Tumor