Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, with an exceedingly low 5-year survival rate. PDAC tumors are characterized by an extensive desmoplastic stromal response and hypovascularity, suggesting that tumor hypoxia could regulate PDAC initiation and/or progression. Using a well-defined, autochthonous KrasG12D-driven murine model, as well as human tumors, we demonstrate that hypoxia and stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF1α), a principal mediator of hypoxic adaptation, emerge early during preinvasive stages of PDAC. Surprisingly, pancreas-specific Hif1a deletion drastically accelerated KrasG12D-driven pancreatic neoplasia and was accompanied by significant increases in intrapancreatic B lymphocytes, featuring prominent influx of a rare “B1b” B-cell subtype. Finally, treatment of HIF1α-deficient mice with B cell–depleting αCD20 monoclonal antibodies inhibited progression of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN). Our data reveal a previously unrecognized role for B cells in promoting pancreatic tumorigenesis and implicate HIF1α as a critical regulator of PDAC development.
SIGNIFICANCE: We show here that pancreas-specific Hif1a deletion promotes PDAC initiation, coincident with increased intrapancreatic accumulation of B cells, and that B-cell depletion suppresses pancreatic tumorigenesis. We therefore demonstrate a protective role for HIF1α in pancreatic cancer initiation and uncover a previously unrecognized function of B cells. Cancer Discov; 6(3); 1–14. ©2015 AACR.
See related commentary by Roghanian et al., p. 230.
See related article by Pylayeva-Gupta et al., p. 247.
See related article by Gunderson et al., p. 270.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Discovery Online (http://cancerdiscovery.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received July 6, 2015.
- Revision received December 18, 2015.
- Accepted December 22, 2015.
- ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.