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Intratumoral spatial heterogeneity of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes is a significant factor for precisely stratifying prognostic immune subgroups of microsatellite instability-high colorectal carcinomas

 Minsun Jung  ;  Ji Ae Lee  ;  Seung-Yeon Yoo  ;  Jeong Mo Bae  ;  Gyeong Hoon Kang  ;  Jung Ho Kim 
 MODERN PATHOLOGY, Vol.35(12) : 2011-2022, 2022-12 
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Colonic Neoplasms* / pathology ; Colorectal Neoplasms* / pathology ; Humans ; Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating ; Microsatellite Instability ; Prognosis
Although the density of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) is known to be linked to prognosis in various cancers, the prognostic impact and immunologic significance of the spatial heterogeneity of TILs have been rarely investigated. In this study, CD3+ and CD8+ TILs were quantified in independent cohorts (discovery, n = 73; and external validation, n = 93) of colorectal carcinomas (CRCs) with microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) utilizing whole-slide image analysis of CD3/CD8 immunohistochemistry. The Shannon and Simpson indices, which measure intratumoral patch-to-patch evenness of TIL densities, were used to quantitatively assess the spatial heterogeneity of TILs in each case. To uncover immune-related gene expression signatures of spatial heterogeneity-based TIL subgroups of MSI-H CRCs, representative cases were subjected to GeoMx digital spatial profiler (DSP) analysis. As expected, a low density of TILs was significantly associated with poor disease-free survival (DFS) in MSI-H CRCs. The TIL-low tumors were further classified into two subgroups based on the spatial heterogeneity of TILs: TIL-low/heterogeneity-high and TIL-low/heterogeneity-low subgroups. In both discovery and validation cohorts, the TIL-low/heterogeneity-high, TIL-low/heterogeneity-low, and TIL-high subgroups were significantly associated with poor, intermediate, and good DFS, respectively. In the DSP analysis, the TIL-low/heterogeneity-high subgroup showed higher spatial diversity in the expression of immune-related genes than that of the TIL-low/heterogeneity-low subgroup and exhibited upregulation of genes related to immune checkpoints, chemokine/cytokine receptors, and myeloid cells. TIL-low/heterogeneity-high tumors were also enriched with gene sets related to good response to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. In conclusion, TIL-low MSI-H CRCs are prognostically heterogeneous and can be divided into prognostically and immunologically distinct subgroups by considering the spatial heterogeneity of TILs. Our data suggest that intratumoral spatial heterogeneity of TILs can be used as a key element for clinically relevant immunologic subtyping of tumors.
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1. College of Medicine (의과대학) > Dept. of Pathology (병리학교실) > 1. Journal Papers
Yonsei Authors
Jung, Minsun(정민선)
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