Co-expression of nuclear and cytoplasmic HMGB1 is inversely associated with infiltration of CD45RO+ T cells and prognosis in patients with stage IIIB colon cancer

Rui-Qing Peng, Xiao-Jun Wu, Ya Ding, Chun-Yan Li, Xing-Juan Yu, Xing Zhang, Zhi-Zhong Pan, De-Sen Wan, Li-Ming Zheng, Yi-Xin Zeng, Xiao-Shi Zhang
BMC Cancer 2010, 10: 496

BACKGROUND: The intratumoral infiltration of T cells, especially memory T cells, is associated with a favorable prognosis in early colorectal cancers. However, the mechanism underlying this process remains elusive. This study examined whether high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), a damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) molecule, is involved in the infiltration of T cells and disease progression in locally advanced colon cancer.

METHODS: Seventy-two cases of pathologically-confirmed specimens were obtained from patients with stage IIIB (T3N1M0) colon cancer who underwent radical resection between January 1999 and May 2002 at the Cancer Center of Sun Yat-Sen University. The density of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) within the tumor tissue and the expression of HMGB1 in the cancer cells were examined via immunohistochemical analysis. The phenotype of CD45RO+ cells was confirmed using a flow cytometric assay. The association between HMGB1 expression, the density of TILs, and the 5-year survival rate were analyzed.

RESULTS: The density of CD45RO+ T cells within the tumor was independently prognostic, although a higher density of CD3+ T cells was also associated with a favorable prognosis. More importantly, the expression of HMGB1 was observed in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm (co-expression pattern) in a subset of colon cancer tissues, whereas nuclear-only expression of HMGB1 (nuclear expression pattern) existed in most of the cancer tissues and normal mucosa. The co-expression pattern of HMGB1 in colon cancer cells was inversely associated with the infiltration of both CD3+ and CD45RO+ T cells and 5-year survival rates.

CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed that the co-expression of HMGB1 is inversely associated with the infiltration of CD45RO+ T cells and prognosis in patients with stage IIIB colon cancer, indicating that the distribution patterns of HMGB1 might contribute to the progression of colon cancer via modulation of the local immune response.

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