Purpose: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) subtypes have been identified using various methodologies. However, it is a challenge to develop classification system applicable to routine clinical evaluation. We aimed to identify risk subgroups based on molecular features and develop a classification model that was more suited for clinical applications.
Experimental Design: We collected whole dissected specimens from 225 patients who underwent surgery at Seoul National University Hospital, between October 2009 and February 2018, in Korea. Target proteins with potential relevance to tumor progression or prognosis were quantified with robust quality controls. We used hierarchical clustering analysis to identify risk subgroups. A random forest classification model was developed to predict the identified risk subgroups, and the model was validated using transcriptomic datasets from external cohorts (N = 700), with survival analysis.
Results: We identified 24 protein features that could classify the four risk subgroups associated with patient outcomes: Stable; Exocrine-like; Activated; and Extracellular matrix (ECM)-Remodeling. The "Stable" risk subgroup was characterized by proteins that were associated with differentiation and tumor suppressors. "Exocrine-like" tumors highly expressed pancreatic enzymes. Two high-risk subgroups, "Activated" and "ECM-Remodeling," were enriched in such terms as cell cycle, angiogenesis, immuno-competence, tumor invasion-metastasis, and metabolic reprogramming. The classification model that included these features made prognoses with relative accuracy and precision in multiple cohorts.
Conclusions: We proposed PDAC risk subgroups and developed a classification model that may potentially be useful for routine clinical implementations, at the individual level. This clinical system may improve the accuracy of risk prediction and treatment guidelines.