Deciphering the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment in ALK- and EGFR-positive lung adenocarcinoma

Jan Budczies, Martina Kirchner, Klaus Kluck, Daniel Kazdal, Julia Glade, Michael Allgäuer, Mark Kriegsmann, Claus Peter Heußel, Felix J. Herth, Hauke Winter, Michael Meister, Thomas Muley, Torsten Goldmann, Stefan Fröhling, Martin Wermke, Cornelius F. Waller, Amanda Tufman, Martin Reck, Solange Peters, Peter SchirmacherMichael Thomas, Petros Christopoulos, Albrecht Stenzinger

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftArtikelpeer review

10 Citaten (Scopus)


Introduction: The advent of immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) has led to significantly improved disease outcome in lung adenocarcinoma (ADC), but response of ALK/EGFR-positive tumors to immune therapy is limited. The underlying immune biology is incompletely understood. Methods: We performed comparative mRNA expression profiling of 31 ALK-positive, 40 EGFR-positive and 43 ALK/EGFR-negative lung ADC focused on immune gene expression. The presence and levels of tumor infiltration lymphocytes (TILs) as well as fourteen specific immune cell populations were estimated from the gene expression profiles. Results: While total TILs were not lower in ALK-positive and EGFR-positive tumors compared to ALK/EGFR-negative tumors, specific immunosuppressive characteristics were detected in both subgroups: In ALK-positive tumors, regulatory T cells were significantly higher compared to EGFR-positive (fold change: FC = 1.9, p = 0.0013) and ALK/EGFR-negative tumors (FC = 2.1, p = 0.00047). In EGFR-positive tumors, cytotoxic cells were significantly lower compared to ALK-positive (FC = − 1.7, p = 0.016) and to ALK/EGFR-negative tumors (FC = − 2.1, p = 2.0E-05). A total number of 289 genes, 40 part of cytokine–cytokine receptor signaling, were differentially expressed between the three subgroups. Among the latter, five genes were differently expressed in both ALK-positive and EGFR-positive tumors, while twelve genes showed differential expression solely in ALK-positive tumors and eleven genes solely in EGFR-positive tumors. Conclusion: Targeted gene expression profiling is a promising tool to read out tumor microenvironment characteristics from routine diagnostic lung cancer biopsies. Significant immune reactivity including specific immunosuppressive characteristics in ALK- and EGFR-positive lung ADC, but not a total absence of immune infiltration supports further clinical evaluation of immune-modulators as partners of ICB in such tumors.

Originele taal-2Engels
Pagina's (van-tot)251-265
Aantal pagina's15
TijdschriftCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Nummer van het tijdschrift2
StatusGepubliceerd - feb. 2022
Extern gepubliceerdJa


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