Identification of critical ferroptosis regulators in lung adenocarcinoma that RRM2 facilitates tumor immune infiltration by inhibiting ferroptotic death

Clin Immunol. 2021 Nov;232:108872. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2021.108872. Epub 2021 Oct 11.


Ferroptosis is a novel form of cell death characterized by heavy iron accumulation and lipid peroxidation that plays a critical role in the tumor microenvironment. However, promising biomarkers associated with tumor immune cell infiltration and the immunotherapy response to ferroptosis regulators remain to be elucidated in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) patients. In this study, we defined ferroptosis regulators in LUAD through database analysis and experimental validation to determine the implementation of genes associated with clinical relevance, immunotherapy response and tumor microenvironment in LUAD patients. Multiomics data analysis was performed to explore the CNV features, molecular mechanisms and immunogenic characteristics of ferroptosis regulators in LUAD patients. Then, univariate and multivariate Cox regression analyses were used to identify three genes (DDIT4, RRM2, and SLC2A1) that were closely associated with the prognosis of LUAD patients. The prognostic model based on the determination of these three genes was an independent prognostic factor (p < 0.05, HR = 2.838), and patients with superior predictive performance and higher prognostic risk were more likely to have poor survival rates than those with lower prognostic risk in the training group (p < 0.001, HR = 3.19) and the test group (p < 0.001, HR = 2.94; p < 0.001, HR = 3.44). Activated immune cells, including T helper cells and activated CD8 T cells, were lower in the high-risk group, while type 2 T cells were higher (p < 0.05). Patients with higher prognostic risk were less likely to benefit from immunotherapy, partly due to low CTLA4 levels and an immunosuppressive microenvironment (p < 0.05). Combined with LUAD tissue samples and mouse trials, RRM2 was found to influence lung cancer progression and affect tumor immune cell infiltration. RRM2 inhibition effectively promoted M1 macrophage polarization and suppressed M2 macrophage polarization in vitro and in vivo. And ferroptosis inhibitor ferrostatin-1 treatment effectively re-blanced macrophage polarization mediated by RRM2 inhibition. Taken together, the results of the multiomics data analysis and experimental validation identified ferroptosis regulators as promising biomarkers and therapeutic targets associated with tumor immune infiltration in LUAD patients.

Keywords: Ferroptosis; Immunotherapy; Lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD); Macrophage; Prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma of Lung / immunology*
  • Adenocarcinoma of Lung / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma of Lung / pathology
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / immunology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Ferroptosis / physiology*
  • Heterografts
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mice
  • Ribonucleoside Diphosphate Reductase / metabolism*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology
  • Tumor-Associated Macrophages / immunology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • ribonucleotide reductase M2
  • Ribonucleoside Diphosphate Reductase