UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Granulocyte Colony Stimulating Factor Expression in Breast Cancer and Its Association with Carbonic Anhydrase IX and Immune Checkpoints Chafe, Shawn; Riaz, Nazia; Burugu, Samantha; Leung, Samuel; Lee, Anna F.; Lee, Cheng-Han; Dedhar, Shoukat; Nielsen, Torsten

Abstract

Purpose: Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) and hypoxia modulate the tumour immune microenvironment. In model systems, hypoxia-induced carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX) has been associated with G-CSF and immune responses, including M2 polarization of macrophages. We investigated whether these associations exist in human breast cancer specimens, their relation to breast cancer subtypes, and clinical outcome. Methods: Using validated protocols and prespecified scoring methodology, G-CSF expression on carcinoma cells and CD163 expression on tumour-associated macrophages were assayed by immunohistochemistry and applied to a tissue microarray series of 2960 primary excision specimens linked to clinicopathologic, biomarker, and outcome data. Results: G-CSFhigh expression showed a significant positive association with ER negativity, HER2 positivity, presence of CD163+ M2 macrophages, and CAIX expression. In univariate analysis, G-CSFhigh phenotype was associated with improved survival in non-luminal cases, although the CAIX+ subset had a significantly adverse prognosis. A significant positive association was observed between immune checkpoint biomarkers on tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes and both G-CSF- and CAIX-expressing carcinoma cells. Immune checkpoint biomarkers correlated significantly with favourable prognosis in G-CSFhigh/non-luminal cases independent of standard clinicopathological features. Conclusions: The prognostic associations linking G-CSF to immune biomarkers and CAIX strongly support their immunomodulatory roles in the tumour microenvironment.

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