Single cell analysis unveils B cell-dominated immune subtypes in HNSCC for enhanced prognostic and therapeutic stratification

Int J Oral Sci. 2024 Apr 16;16(1):29. doi: 10.1038/s41368-024-00292-1.


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is characterized by high recurrence or distant metastases rate and the prognosis is challenging. There is mounting evidence that tumor-infiltrating B cells (TIL-Bs) have a crucial, synergistic role in tumor control. However, little is known about the role TIL-Bs play in immune microenvironment and the way TIL-Bs affect the outcome of immune checkpoint blockade. Using single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database, the study identified distinct gene expression patterns in TIL-Bs. HNSCC samples were categorized into TIL-Bs inhibition and TIL-Bs activation groups using unsupervised clustering. This classification was further validated with TCGA HNSCC data, correlating with patient prognosis, immune cell infiltration, and response to immunotherapy. We found that the B cells activation group exhibited a better prognosis, higher immune cell infiltration, and distinct immune checkpoint levels, including elevated PD-L1. A prognostic model was also developed and validated, highlighting four genes as potential biomarkers for predicting survival outcomes in HNSCC patients. Overall, this study provides a foundational approach for B cells-based tumor classification in HNSCC, offering insights into targeted treatment and immunotherapy strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / therapy
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Biomarkers