Background: Solid tumour growth is the consequence of a complex interplay between cancer cells and their microenvironment. Recently, a new global transcriptomic immune classification of solid tumours has identified six immune subtypes (ISs) (C1-C6). Our aim was to specifically characterise ISs in colorectal cancer (CRC) and assess their interplay with the consensus molecular subtypes (CMSs).
Methods: Clinical and molecular information, including CMSs and ISs, were obtained from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) (N = 625). Immune cell populations, differential gene expression and gene set enrichment analysis were performed to characterise ISs in the global CRC population by using CMSs.
Results: Only 5 ISs were identified in CRC, predominantly C1 wound healing (77%) and C2 IFN-γ dominant (17%). CMS1 showed the highest proportion of C2 (53%), whereas C1 was particularly dominant in CMS2 (91%). CMS3 had the highest representation of C3 inflammatory (7%) and C4 lymphocyte depleted ISs (4%), whereas all C6 TGF-β dominant cases belonged to CMS4 (2.3%). Prognostic relevance of ISs in CRC substantially differed from that reported for the global TCGA, and ISs had a greater ability to stratify the prognosis of CRC patients than CMS classification. C2 had higher densities of CD8, CD4 activated, follicular helper T cells, regulatory T cells and neutrophils and the highest M1/M2 polarisation. C2 had a heightened activation of pathways related to the immune system, apoptosis and DNA repair, mTOR signalling and oxidative phosphorylation, whereas C1 was more dependent of metabolic pathways.
Conclusions: The correlation of IS and CMS allows a more precise categorisation of patients with relevant clinical and biological implications, which may be valuable tools to improve tailored therapeutic interventions in CRC patients.
Keywords: Colorectal cancer; Consensus molecular subtypes; Immune subtypes; Immunotherapy; Tumour microenviroment.
Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.