Geospatial Immune Heterogeneity Reflects the Diverse Tumor-Immune Interactions in Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Cancer Discov. 2022 Oct 5;12(10):2350-2371. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-21-1640.


Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA) exhibits extensive intratumoral heterogeneity and an extremely high mortality rate. Here, we performed whole-exome sequencing, RNA sequencing, T-cell receptor (TCR) sequencing, and multiplexed immunofluorescence on 207 tumor regions from 45 patients with iCCA. Over half of iCCA displayed intratumoral heterogeneity of immune infiltration, and iCCA were classified into sparsely, heterogeneously, and highly infiltrated subgroups with distinct immunogenomic characteristics. Sparsely infiltrated tumors displayed active copy-number loss of clonal neoantigens, and heterogeneous immune infiltration played an important role in the subclonal evolution across tumor subregions. Highly infiltrated tumors were characterized by extensive immune activation and a similar TCR repertoire across tumor subregions, but counteracted with T-cell exhaustion and pervasive antigen presentation defects. Notably, FGFR2 mutations and fusions correlated with low mutation burden and reduced immune infiltration. Our work delineated the dynamic tumor-immune interactions and developed a robust classification system to divide patients with iCCA into high and low immune evasion groups with different prognoses.

Significance: This study elucidates the impact of spatial immune heterogeneity upon tumor evolution of iCCA and reveals distinct immune evasion mechanisms developed in different immune microenvironments, which can be exploited for the development of personalized immunotherapy strategies. This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 2221.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bile Duct Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic / pathology
  • Cholangiocarcinoma* / genetics
  • Cholangiocarcinoma* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell