Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has a poor clinical outlook. Responses to immune checkpoint blockade are suboptimal and a much more detailed understanding of the tumor immune microenvironment is needed if this situation is to be improved. Here, we characterized tumor-infiltrating T-cell populations in patients with PDAC using cytometry by time of flight (CyTOF) and single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq). T cells were the predominant immune cell subset observed within tumors. Over 30% of CD4+ T cells expressed a CCR6+CD161+ Th17 phenotype and 17% displayed an activated regulatory T-cell profile. Large populations of CD8+ tissue-resident memory (TRM) T cells were also present and expressed high levels of PD-1 and TIGIT. A population of putative tumor-reactive CD103+CD39+ T cells was also observed within the CD8+ TIL population. The expression of PD-1 ligands was limited largely to haemopoietic cells whilst TIGIT ligands were expressed widely within the tumor microenvironment. PD-L1 and CD155 were expressed within the T-cell area of ectopic lymphoid structures and colocalized with PD-1+TIGIT+ CD8+ T cells. Combinatorial anti-PD-1 and TIGIT blockade enhanced IFN secretion and proliferation of T cells in the presence of PD-1 and TIGIT ligands. As such, we showed that the PDAC microenvironment is characterized by the presence of substantial populations of TRM cells with an exhausted PD-1+TIGIT+ phenotype where dual checkpoint receptor blockade represents a promising avenue for future immunotherapy.
Cancer Immunol Res