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β-Catenin-driven adrenocortical carcinoma is characterized with immune exclusion

Authors Liu S, Ding G, Zhou Z, Feng C

Received 15 December 2017

Accepted for publication 1 March 2018

Published 9 April 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 2029—2036


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Carlos E Vigil

Shenghua Liu,1,2,* Guanxiong Ding,1,2,* Zhongwen Zhou,1,2 Chenchen Feng1,2

1Department of Urology, Huashan Hospital, Shanghai, China; 2Fudan Institute of Urology, Shanghai, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Aim: Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is characterized by overexpressed CTNNB1, which is reported to modulate immune exclusion. Cross talk between CTNNB1 and cancer immunity in ACC remains unclear.
Materials and methods: In silico reproduction of TCGA-ACC dataset (N = 92) and external validation using tissue samples were performed (N = 16). Expression data of CTNNB1, PD-1, and PD-L1 were extracted in silico and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) were profiled using code provided by Tumor IMmune Estimation Resource (TIMER). In-house formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded ACC samples were processed using immunohistochemical (IHC) staining for CTNNB1, CD45, PD-1, and PD-L1.
Results: Increased CTNNB1 expression was significantly associated with worsened overall survival (OS) (P = 0.006). CD8+ cells were significantly associated with better OS (P = 0.02). Higher PD-L1 (P = 0.019), but not PD-1 expression (P = 0.325), was associated with better OS. CTNNB1 overexpression was significantly associated with increased tumor purity (r = 0.356, P = 0.002) and fewer TILs (r = -0.833, P = 0.029), decreased infiltrating CD8+ cells (P = 0.033), and increased infiltrating B cells (P = 0.026). CTNNB1 expression was negatively correlated with PD-L1 expression (r = -0.308, P = 0.006) but not with PD-1 expression (P = 0.067), which were externally validated (P = 0.032 for PD-L1 and P = 0.400 for PD-1). The Cox regression model encompassing gender, B cells, CD8+ cells, PD-L1, CTNNB1, and Ki-67 revealed that only Ki-67 overexpression remained significantly associated with OS (P < 0.001), while CTNNB1 showed marginal significance (P = 0.06). CTNNB1-overexpressed patients were more likely to have cortisol excess (P = 0.003).
Conclusion: ACC with CTNNB1 overexpression is associated with poor prognosis and decreased immunity. Our findings suggest that CTNNB1-targeting therapy may overcome immune exclusion in ACC.

Keywords: adrenocortical carcinoma, CTNNB1, tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte, PD-L1, prognosis

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