Patterns and Relevance of Langerhans Islet Invasion in Pancreatic Cancer

Goess, R., Mutgan, A. C., Calisan, U., Erdogan, Y. C., Ren, L., Jager, C., Safak, O., Stupakov, P., Istvanffy, R., Friess, H., Ceyhan, G. O., and Demir, I. E. (2021). Cancers (Basel) 13. doi: 10.3390/cancers13020249


Background: Pancreatic cancer-associated diabetes mellitus (PC-DM) is present in most patients with pancreatic cancer, but its pathogenesis remains poorly understood. Therefore, we aimed to characterize tumor infiltration in Langerhans islets in pancreatic cancer and determine its clinical relevance.

Methods: Langerhans islet invasion was systematically analyzed in 68 patientswith pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) using histopathological examination and 3D in vitro migration assays were performed to assess chemoattraction of pancreatic cancer cells to isletcells.

Results: Langerhans islet invasion was present in all patients. We found four different patterns of islet invasion: (Type I) peri-insular invasion with tumor cells directly touching the boundary, but not penetrating the islet; (Type II) endo-insular invasion with tumor cells inside the round islet; (Type III) distorted islet structure with complete loss of the round islet morphology; and (Type IV)adjacent cancer and islet cells with solitary islet cells encountered adjacent to cancer cells. Pancreatic cancer cells did not exhibit any chemoattraction to islet cells in 3D assays in vitro. Further, there was no clinical correlation of islet invasion using the novel Islet Invasion Severity Score (IISS), which includes all invasion patterns with the occurrence of diabetes mellitus. However, Type IV islet invasion was related to worsened overall survival in our cohort.

Conclusions: We systematically analyzed, for the first time, islet invasion in human pancreatic cancer. Four different main patterns of islet invasion were identified. Diabetes mellitus was not related to islet invasion. However, moreresearch on this prevailing feature of pancreatic cancer is needed to better understand underlying principles.

Keywords: Langerhans islet; diabetes mellitus; islet invasion; pancreatic cancer; pancreatic tissue destruction; survival.