Tumor-associated neutrophils are increasingly recognized for their ability to promote tumor progression, mediate resistance to therapy, and regulate immunosuppression. Evidence from various murine models has shown that the chemokine receptor CXCR2 attracts neutrophil into tumors and, therefore, represents a tractable therapeutic target. Here, we report prominent expression of a neutrophil gene signature in a subset of human pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDA). CXCL5 was the most prominently expressed CXCR2 ligand in human PDA, and its expression was higher in PDA than in any other common tumor represented in The Cancer Genome Atlas. Using a genetically engineered mouse model of PDA, we found that tumor and stromal cells differentially expressed CXCR2 ligands, with Cxcl5 high in tumor and Cxcl2 high in stroma. Cxcl5 expression was associated with mutant Kras expression and regulated by NF-κB activation. Host CXCR2 inhibition by genetic ablation prevented neutrophil accumulation in pancreatic tumors and led to a T cell–dependent suppression of tumor growth. In the absence of neutrophils, activated and functional T cells infiltrated pancreatic tumors otherwise devoid of effector T cells. Thus, the CXCR2–ligand axis helps establish an immunosuppressive microenvironment in PDA, highlighting the potential utility of targeting this axis as a novel therapy for this deadly disease. Cancer Immunol Res; 4(11); 1–15. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Immunology Research Online (http://cancerimmunolres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received August 2, 2016.
- Revision received September 27, 2016.
- Accepted September 28, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.