BACKGROUND: We have developed a Wilms‘ tumor 1 (WT1)-targeting dendritic cell (DC)-based cancer vaccine combined with standard chemotherapy for patients with advanced pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA).
METHODS: We evaluated predictive markers of overall survival (OS) in PDA patients treated with multiple major histocompatibility complex class I/II-restricted, WT1 peptide-pulsed DC vaccinations (DC/WT1-I/II) in combination with chemotherapy. Throughout the entire period of immunochemotherapy, the plasma levels of soluble factors derived from granulocytes of 7 eligible PDA patients were examined. Moreover, systemic inflammatory response markers (neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio [NLR], monocyte-to-lymphocyte ratio [MLR], and granulocyte-to-lymphocyte ratio [GLR]) were assessed. In addition, cytoplasmic WT1 expression in PDA cells was examined.
RESULTS: Compared to the 4 non-super-responders (OS <1 year), the remaining 3 super-responders (OS ≥1 year) showed significantly decreased low plasma matrix metalloproteinase-9 levels throughout long-term therapy. The NLR, MLR, and GLR after 5 DC/WT1-I/II vaccinations and 3 cycles of gemcitabine were significantly lower in the super-responders than in the non-super-responders. Furthermore, the cytoplasmic WT1 expression in the PDA cells of super-responders was relatively weak compared to that in the PDA cells of non-super-responders.
CONCLUSIONS: Prolonged low levels of a granulocyte-related systemic inflammatory response after the early period of therapy and low cytoplasmic WT1 expression in PDA cells may be markers predictive of OS in PDA patients receiving WT1-targeting immunochemotherapy.