Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2020 Sep 30. doi: 10.1007/s00262-020-02727-0. Online ahead of print.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) has high mortality rates, especially in patients with advanced disease stages, who often do not respond to therapy. The cellular components of the tumor microenvironment are essentially responsible for dictating disease progression and response to therapy. Expansion of different myeloid cell subsets in CRC tumors has been reported previously. However, tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells have both pro- and anti-tumor roles in disease progression. In this study, we performed
transcriptomic profiling of cells of myeloid lineage (CD33+) from bulk CRC tumors at varying disease stages. We identified differentially expressed genes and pathways between CRC patients with advanced stage and early stages. We found that pro-angiogenic and hypoxia-related genes were upregulated, while genes related to immune and inflammatory responses were downregulated in CD33+ myeloid cells from patients with advanced stages, implying that immune cell recruitment and activation could be compromised in advanced disease stages. Moreover, we identified a unique "poor prognosis CD33+ gene signature" by aligning top upregulated and downregulated genes in tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells from our analyses with data from The Cancer Genome Atlas. Our results showed that this gene signature is an independent prognostic indicator for disease-specific survival in CRC patients, potentially reflecting its clinical importance.