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Colorectal cancer prognosis depends on T-cell infiltration and molecular characteristics of the tumor
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Biosciences, Pathology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Biosciences, Pathology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Biosciences, Pathology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Biosciences, Pathology.
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2011 (English)In: Modern Pathology, ISSN 0893-3952, E-ISSN 1530-0285, Vol. 24, 671-682 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study was to relate the density of tumor infiltrating T cells to cancer-specific survival in colorectal cancer, taking into consideration the CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) and microsatellite instability (MSI) screening status. The T-cell marker CD3 was stained by immunohistochemistry in 484 archival tumor tissue samples. T-cell density was semiquantitatively estimated and scored 1-4 in the tumor front and center (T cells in stroma), and intraepithelially (T cells infiltrating tumor cell nests). Total CD3 score was calculated as the sum of the three CD3 scores (range 3-12). MSI screening status was assessed by immunohistochemistry. CIMP status was determined by quantitative real-time PCR (MethyLight) using an eight-gene panel. We found that patients whose tumors were highly infiltrated by T cells (total CD3 score ≥7) had longer survival compared with patients with poorly infiltrated tumors (total CD3 score ≤4). This finding was statistically significant in multivariate analyses (multivariate hazard ratio, 0.57; 95% confidence interval, 0.31-1.00). Importantly, the finding was consistent in rectal cancer patients treated with preoperative radiotherapy. Although microsatellite unstable tumor patients are generally considered to have better prognosis, we found no difference in survival between microsatellite unstable and microsatellite stable (MSS) colorectal cancer patients with similar total CD3 scores. Patients with MSS tumors highly infiltrated by T cells had better prognosis compared with intermediately or poorly infiltrated microsatellite unstable tumors (log rank P=0.013). Regarding CIMP status, CIMP-low was associated with particularly poor prognosis in patients with poorly infiltrated tumors (multivariate hazard ratio for CIMP-low versus CIMP-negative, 3.07; 95% confidence interval, 1.53-6.15). However, some subset analyses suffered from low power and are in need of confirmation by independent studies. In conclusion, patients whose tumors are highly infiltrated by T cells have a beneficial prognosis, regardless of MSI, whereas the role of CIMP status in this context is less clear.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 24, 671-682 p.
Keyword [en]
colorectal neoplasms; host immune response; immunotherapy; microsatellite instability (MSI); prognosis; T-lymphocytes; the CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP)
National Category
Other Basic Medicine
Research subject
Pathology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-41268DOI: 10.1038/modpathol.2010.234PubMedID: 21240258OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-41268DiVA: diva2:405371
Available from: 2011-03-22 Created: 2011-03-22 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The CpG island methylator phenotype in colorectal cancer: studies on risk and prognosis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The CpG island methylator phenotype in colorectal cancer: studies on risk and prognosis
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common malignancy in developed countries. The mortality is high, with nearly half of patients dying from the disease. The primary treatment of CRC is surgery, and decisions about additional treatment with chemotherapy are based mainly on tumor stage. Novel prognostic markers that identify patients at high risk of recurrence and cancer-related death are needed.

The development of CRC has been described in terms of two different pathways; the microsatellite instability (MSI) and chromosomal instability (microsatellite stable, MSS) pathway. More recently, the CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP), characterized by frequent DNA hypermethylation, has been described as an alternative pathway of tumorigenesis. The event of DNA methylation is dependent on one-carbon metabolism, in which folate and vitamin B12 have essential functions.

The purpose of this thesis was to study CIMP in CRC. The specific aims were to investigate the potential role of components of one-carbon metabolism as risk factors for this subgroup of tumors, and the prognostic importance of CIMP status, taking into consideration important confounding factors, such as MSI and tumor-infiltrating T cells.

Methods CRC cases and referents included in the Northern Sweden Health and Disease Study (NSHDS, 226 cases and 437 referents) and CRC cases in the Colorectal Cancer in Umeå Study (CRUMS, n=490) were studied. Prediagnostic plasma concentrations of folate and vitamin B12 were analyzed in NSHDS. In both study groups, CIMP status was determined in archival tumor tissue by real-time quantitative PCR using an eight-gene panel (CDKN2A, MLH1, CACNA1G, NEUROG1, RUNX3, SOCS1, IGF2 and CRABP1). MSI screening status and the density of tumor-infiltrating T cells were determined by immunohistochemistry. 

Results An inverse association was found between plasma concentrations of vitamin B12 and rectal, but not colon, cancer risk. We also found a reduced risk of CIMP-high and CIMP-low CRC in study subjects with the lowest levels of plasma folate.

We found that patients with CIMP-low tumors in both NSHDS and CRUMS had a poorer prognosis compared with CIMP-negative, regardless of MSI screening status. We also found that MSS CIMP-high patients had a poorer prognosis compared with MSS CIMP-negative. The density of tumor-infiltrating T cells and CIMP status were both found to be independent predictors of CRC patient prognosis. A particularly poor prognosis was found in patients with CIMP-low tumors poorly infiltrated by T cells. In addition, the density of T cells appeared to be more important than MSI screening status for predicting CRC patient prognosis.

Conclusion Rather than being one disease, CRC is a heterogeneous set of diseases with respect to clinico-pathological and molecular characteristics. We found that the association between risk and plasma concentration of vitamin B12 and folate depends on tumor site and CIMP status, respectively. Patient prognosis was found to be different depending on CIMP and MSI screening status, and the density of tumor-infiltrating T cells.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå university, 2011. 57 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1412
Keyword
Colorectal cancer, DNA methylation, folate, microsatellite instability (MSI), prognosis, risk factors, t-lymphocytes, the CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP), Vitamin B12
National Category
Cell and Molecular Biology Cell and Molecular Biology
Research subject
Pathology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-41270 (URN)978-91-7459-177-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-04-15, Betula, Norrlands universitetssjukhus, byggnad 6M, bottenvåningen, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
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Available from: 2011-03-24 Created: 2011-03-22 Last updated: 2015-03-24Bibliographically approved

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