Intratumoral T-cell receptor repertoire composition predicts overall survival in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a lethal malignancy that is refractory to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. However, intratumoral T-cell infiltration correlates with improved overall survival (OS). Herein, we characterized the diversity and antigen specificity of the PDAC T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire to identify novel immune-relevant biomarkers. Demographic, clinical, and TCR-beta sequencing data were collated from 353 patients across three cohorts that underwent surgical resection for PDAC. TCR diversity was calculated using Shannon Wiener index, Inverse Simpson index, and “True entropy.” Patients were clustered by shared repertoire specificity. TCRs predictive of OS were identified and their associated transcriptional states were characterized by single-cell RNAseq. In multivariate Cox regression models controlling for relevant covariates, high intratumoral TCR diversity predicted OS across multiple cohorts. Conversely, in peripheral blood, high abundance of T-cells, but not high diversity, predicted OS. Clustering patients based on TCR specificity revealed a subset of TCRs that predicts OS. Interestingly, these TCR sequences were more likely to encode CD8+ effector memory and CD4+ T-regulatory (Tregs) T-cells, all with the capacity to recognize beta islet-derived autoantigens. As opposed to T-cell abundance, intratumoral TCR diversity was predictive of OS in multiple PDAC cohorts, and a subset of TCRs enriched in high-diversity patients independently correlated with OS. These findings emphasize the importance of evaluating peripheral and intratumoral TCR repertoires as distinct and relevant biomarkers in PDAC.

In Oncoimmunology