Differential Expression and Prognostic Correlation of Immune Related Factors Between Right and Left Side Colorectal Cancer

Front Oncol. 2022 Jul 22;12:845765. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2022.845765. eCollection 2022.


Background: Growing evidence suggests that colorectal cancer (CRC) should be considered a heterogeneous disease. The right side (RCC) and left side (LCC) colorectal cancer have different clinical characteristics and immune landscapes. The aim of this study was to analyze differential expression and prognostic correlation of immune-related factors between RCC and LCC.

Methods: The gene expression profile and clinical characteristics of CRC patients were retrieved from The Cancer Genome Atlas data portal (n=525). Using a deconvolution algorithm, immune cell infiltration in RCC and LCC based on the RNA-seq data was analyzed. Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were obtained by performing differential gene expression analysis. Immune-related DEGs were derived by the intersection with immune-related factors downloaded from the IMMPORT database. To further validate the findings, we applied immunohistochemical (IHC) staining of a CRC tissue microarray (TMA). The distribution of immune cells in RCC and LCC and changes in the expression of immune molecules on their membranes were verified. The expression levels of circulating cytokines were measured by flow cytometry to detect the cytokines secreted by immune cells in RCC and LCC. Furthermore, to reveal the prognostic value of differential immune factors on RCC and LCC patients, survival analysis based on mRNA levels using TCGA cohort and survival analysis using protein levels was performed using our CRC patients.

Results: The infiltration of immune cells differed between RCC and LCC, the infiltration degree of macrophages M0 was significantly higher in LCC, while the infiltration degree of differentiated macrophages M1 and M2, CD4+ T and CD8+ T cells was significantly higher in RCC. The expression of related molecules by immune cells also differed between RCC and LCC. The expression of 7 genes in RCC was higher than that in LCC, which were CCR5, CD209, CD8A, HCK, HLA-DPB1, HLA-DQA1, HLA-DRA, respectively. Meanwhile, the expression of 2 genes in LCC was higher than in RCC, which were IL-34 and PROCR. Patients with RCC having high expression of HLA-DQA1 mRNA or proteins had better survival and LCC patients with high expression of IL 34 mRNA or protein had better survival.

Conclusions: In this study, we comprehensively compared differences in immune cells and regulating factors between left and right colorectal cancer. Different expression patterns and their effects on survival were identified. The analysis of immune-related factors may provide a theoretical basis for precise immunotherapy of RCC and LCC.

Keywords: colorectal cancer; differential expression; immune-related factors; left-side colorectal cancer; prognostic correlation; right-side colon cancer.