Evaluation of markers of immunity in different metastatic immune microenvironments suggests more suppression within breast to liver metastases in breast cancer

Robert Hsu, Batul Al-zubeidy, Daniel Flores, Ari Nazarian, Aaron Baugh, Edgar Gonzalez, Sofi Castanon, Joanne Xiu, Irene Kang, Darcy Spicer, Heinz Josef Lenz, Lily Dara, Foluso O. Ademuyiwa, W. Michael Korn, Sheeba Irshad, Isaac S. Chan, Evanthia T. Roussos Torres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Programmed death receptor ligand-1 (PD-L1) expression and tumor mutational burden (TMB) are approved screening biomarkers for immune checkpoint inhibition (ICI) in advanced triple negative breast cancer. We examined these biomarkers along with characterization of the tumor microenvironment (TME) between breast tumors (BrTs), axillary metastases (AxMs), liver metastases (LvMs), non-axillary lymph node metastases, and non-liver metastases to determine differences related to site of metastatic disease. Methods: 3076 unpaired biopsies from breast cancer patients were analyzed using whole transcriptome sequencing and NextGen DNA depicting TMB within tumor sites. The PD-L1 positivity was determined with VENTANA PD-L1 (SP142) assay. The immune cell fraction within the TME was calculated by QuantiSeq and MCP-counter. Results: Compared to BrT, more LvM samples had a high TMB (≥ 10 mutations/Mb) and fewer LvM samples had PD-L1+ expression. Evaluation of the TME revealed that LvM sites harbored lower infiltration of adaptive immune cells, such as CD4+, CD8+, and regulatory T-cells compared with the BrT foci. We saw differences in innate immune cell infiltration in LvM compared to BrT, including neutrophils and NK cells. Conclusions: LvMs are less likely to express PD-L1+ tumor cells but more likely to harbor high TMB as compared to BrTs. Unlike AxMs, LvMs represent a more immunosuppressed TME and demonstrate lower gene expression associated with adaptive immunity compared to BrTs. These findings suggest biopsy site be considered when interpreting results that influence ICI use for treatment and further investigation of immune composition and biomarkers expression by metastatic site.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Liver metastasis
  • Metastatic breast cancer
  • Tumor immune infiltration
  • Tumor microenvironment

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