Comparative Genomics Reveals Distinct Immune-oncologic Pathways in African American Men with Prostate Cancer

Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Jan 1;27(1):320-329. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-20-2925. Epub 2020 Oct 9.


Purpose: The role of immune-oncologic mechanisms of racial disparities in prostate cancer remains understudied. Limited research exists to evaluate the molecular underpinnings of immune differences in African American men (AAM) and European American men (EAM) prostate tumor microenvironment (TME).

Experimental design: A total of 1,173 radiation-naïve radical prostatectomy samples with whole transcriptome data from the Decipher GRID registry were used. Transcriptomic expressions of 1,260 immune-specific genes were selected to assess immune-oncologic differences between AAM and EAM prostate tumors. Race-specific differential expression of genes was assessed using a rank test, and intergene correlational matrix and gene set enrichment was used for pathway analysis.

Results: AAM prostate tumors have significant enrichment of major immune-oncologic pathways, including proinflammatory cytokines, IFNα, IFNγ, TNFα signaling, ILs, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. AAM TME has higher total immune content score (ICSHIGH) compared with 0 (37.8% vs. 21.9%, P = 0.003). AAM tumors also have lower DNA damage repair and are genomically radiosensitive as compared with EAM. IFITM3 (IFN-inducible transmembrane protein 3) was one of the major proinflammatory genes overexpressed in AAM that predicted increased risk of biochemical recurrence selectively for AAM in both discovery [HRAAM = 2.30; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.21-4.34; P = 0.01] and validation (HRAAM = 2.42; 95% CI, 1.52-3.86; P = 0.0001) but not in EAM.

Conclusions: Prostate tumors of AAM manifest a unique immune repertoire and have significant enrichment of proinflammatory immune pathways that are associated with poorer outcomes. Observed immune-oncologic differences can aid in a genomically adaptive approach to treating prostate cancer in AAM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Black or African American / genetics*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Datasets as Topic
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / genetics
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / immunology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / immunology*
  • Genomics / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / genetics
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / immunology*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control
  • Prostate / immunology
  • Prostate / pathology
  • Prostatectomy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology*
  • White People / genetics
  • White People / statistics & numerical data