Adrenal| Volume 171, ISSUE 1, P111-118, January 2022

Multiplatform computational analysis of mast cells in adrenocortical carcinoma tumor microenvironment



      Immunotherapeutic response failure of adrenocortical carcinomas highlights a need for novel strategies targeting immune cell populations in the tumor microenvironment to overcome tumor resistance and enhance therapeutic response. A recent study explored a new link between tumor mast cell infiltration and improved outcomes in patients with adrenocortical carcinomas. We further dissect the role of mast cells in the tumor microenvironment of adrenocortical carcinomas by examining the tumor mast cell expression signatures and mast cell activity within the tumor microenvironment to provide additional insight into potential novel immunotherapeutic targets.


      Using the CIBERSORTx computational immunogenomic deconvolution algorithm to analyze adrenocortical carcinoma tumor gene messenger RNA expression data (The Cancer Genome Atlas, N = 79), we estimated the abundance of tumor immune infiltrating mast cells and assessed prognostic potential of mast cell signaling genes as pro or antitumor signatures, as well as examined the impact on overall and disease-free survival.


      We stratified mast cell signaling genes with survival prognostic values (overall survival, disease-free survival, P < .05) into antitumor (ALOX5, CCL2, CCL5, CXCL10, HDC, IL16, TNF, TPSAB1, VEGFD) and protumor (CXCL1, CXCL3, CXCL8, IL4, IL13, PTGS3, TNSF4, VEGFD) groups. Antitumor mast cell signature, as the predominant phenotype, was associated with improved overall and disease-free survival.


      The deconvolution analysis of The Cancer Genome Atlas data identified mast cell infiltration in the adrenocortical carcinoma microenvironment as predominantly associated with antitumor activity. Future studies stemming from our findings may help define the role of mast cells in the tumor microenvironment and the impact on patient survival in patients with adrenocortical carcinomas. Modulation of tumor mast cell infiltration may serve as a potential target for novel synergistic immunotherapies for the treatment and improved survival of patients with adrenocortical carcinomas.
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