Checkpoint-based immunotherapy has failed to elicit responses in the majority of patients with pancreatic cancer. In our study, we aimed to identify the role of a novel immune checkpoint molecule V-set Ig domain-containing 4 (VSIG4) in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).
Online datasets and tissue microarray (TMA) were utilized to analyze the expression level of VSIG4 and its correlation with clinical parameters in PDAC. CCK8, transwell assay and wound healing assay were applied to explore the function of VSIG4 in vitro. Subcutaneous, orthotopic xenograft and liver metastasis model were established to explore the function of VSIG4 in vivo. TMA analysis and chemotaxis assay were conducted to uncover the effect of VSIG4 on immune infiltration. Histone acetyltransferase (HAT) inhibitors and si-RNA were applied to investigate factors that regulate the expression of VSIG4.
Both mRNA and protein levels of VSIG4 were higher in PDAC than normal pancreas in TCGA, GEO, HPA datasets and our TMA. VSIG4 showed positive correlations with tumor size, T classification and liver metastasis. Patients with higher VSIG4 expression were related to poorer prognosis. VSIG4 knockdown impaired the proliferation, migration ability of pancreatic cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo. Bioinformatics study showed positive correlation between VSIG4 and infiltration of neutrophil and tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) in PDAC and it inhibited the secretion of cytokines. According to our TMA panel, High expression of VSIG4 was correlated with fewer infiltration of CD8+ T cells. Chemotaxis assay also showed knockdown of VSIG4 increased the recruitment of total T cells and CD8+ T cells. HAT inhibitors and knockdown of STAT1 leaded to decreased expression of VSIG4.
Our data indicates that VSIG4 contribute to cell proliferation, migration and resistance to immune attack, thus identified as a promising target for PDAC treatment with good prognostic value.