High tumor hexokinase-2 expression promotes a pro-tumorigenic immune microenvironment by modulating CD8+/regulatory T-cell infiltration

Sehui Kim, Jaemoon Koh, Seung Geun Song, Jeemin Yim, Miso Kim, Bhumsuk Keam, Young Tae Kim, Jihun Kim, Doo Hyun Chung, Yoon Kyung Jeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Relationship between cancer cell glycolysis and the landscape of tumor immune microenvironment in human cancers was investigated. Methods: Forty-one fresh lung adenocarcinoma (ADC) tissues were analyzed using flow cytometry for comprehensive immunoprofiling. Formalin-fixed tissues were immunostained for hexokinase-2 (HK2) to assess cancer cell glycolysis. For validation, formalin-fixed tissues from 375 lung ADC, 118 lung squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC), 338 colon ADC, and 78 lung cancer patients treated with anti-PD-1/PD-L1 immunotherapy were immunostained for HK2, CD8, and FOXP3. Results: Based on immunoprofiling of lung ADC, HK2 tumor expression was associated with the composition of lymphoid cells rather than myeloid cells. High HK2 tumor expression was associated with immunosuppressive/pro-tumorigenic features, especially decreased ratio of CD8 + T-cells to Tregs (rho = −0.415, P = 0.012). This correlation was also confirmed in four different cohorts including lung ADC and SqCC, colon ADC, and the immunotherapy cohort (rho = −0.175~-0.335, all P < 0.05). A low CD8 + T-cell to Treg ratio was associated with poor progression-free survival and overall survival in lung SqCC patients, and a shorter overall survival in the immunotherapy cohort (all, P < 0.05). Conclusion: An increase in HK2 expression may contribute to shaping the immunosuppressive/pro-tumorigenic tumor microenvironment by modulating the CD8 + T-cell to Treg ratio. Targeting tumor HK2 expression might be a potential strategy for enhancing anti-tumor immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1120
JournalBMC Cancer
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • CD8 + T-cell to Treg ratio
  • Glycolysis
  • Hexokinase-2
  • Immunotherapy
  • Tumor microenvironment
  • Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes

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