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Neoadjuvant chemoradiation alters biomarkers of anticancer immunotherapy responses in locally advanced rectal cancer

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Affiliated Author(s)
이혜원변상준박지영민현지김신배성욱
Alternative Author(s)
Lee, Hye WonByun, Sang JunKim, ShinBae, Sung Uk
Journal Title
J Immunother Cancer
ISSN
2051-1426
Issued Date
2021
Abstract
Background:
Neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy (CRT) is a widely used preoperative treatment strategy for locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). However, a few studies have evaluated the molecular changes caused by neoadjuvant CRT in these cancer tissues. Here, we aimed to investigate changes in immunotherapy-related immunogenic effects in response to preoperative CRT in LARC.

Methods:
We analyzed 60 pairs of human LARC tissues before and after irradiation from three independent LARC cohorts, including a LARC patient RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) dataset from our cohort and GSE15781 and GSE94104 datasets.

Results:
Gene ontology analysis showed that preoperative CRT significantly enriched the immune response in LARC tissues. Moreover, gene set enrichment analysis revealed six significantly enriched Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathways associated with downregulated genes, including mismatch repair (MMR) genes, in LARC tissues after CRT in all three cohorts. Radiation also induced apoptosis and downregulated various MMR system-related genes in three colorectal cancer cells. One patient with LARC showed a change in microsatellite instability (MSI) status after CRT, as demonstrated by the loss of MMR protein and PCR for MSI. Moreover, CRT significantly increased tumor mutational burden in LARC tissues. CIBERSORT analysis revealed that the proportions of M2 macrophages and CD8 T cells were significantly increased after CRT in both the RNA-seq dataset and GSE94104. Notably, preoperative CRT increased various immune biomarker scores, such as the interferon-γ signature, the cytolytic activity and the immune signature.

Conclusions:
Taken together, our findings demonstrated that neoadjuvant CRT modulated the immune-related characteristics of LARC, suggesting that neoadjuvant CRT may enhance the responsiveness of LARC to immunotherapy.
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