Background: Oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) exhibits diverse immunological properties; however, their implications for immunotherapy are unknown. Methods: We analysed 37 surgically resected and nine recurrent or metastatic anti-programmed death-1 (PD-1)/programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1)-treated OPC tumours. OPCs were classified into immune-rich (IR), mesenchymal (MS) and xenobiotic (XB) subtypes based on RNA-sequencing data. Results: All IR type tumours were human papillomavirus (HPV) positive, most XB types were HPV negative, and MS types showed mixed HPV status. The IR type showed an enriched T cell exhaustion signature with PD-1+ CD8+ T cells and type I macrophages infiltrating the tumour nest on multiplex immunohistochemistry. The MS type showed an exclusion of CD8+ T cells from the tumour nest and high MS and tumour growth factor-β signatures. The XB type showed scant CD8+ T cell infiltration and focal CD73 expression. The IR type was associated with a favourable response signature during anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy and showed a high APOBEC mutation signature, whereas the MS and XB types showed resistance signature upregulation. Among anti-PD-1/PD-L1-treated OPC patients, the IR type showed a favourable clinical response (3/4 patients), whereas the XB type showed early progression (3/3 patients). Conclusion: Our analysis classified OPCs into three subtypes with distinct immune microenvironments that are potentially related to the response to anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding information This research was supported by the Young Medical Scientist Research Grant through the Deawoong Foundation (DY18111P), by the Bio & Medical Technology Development Programme of the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (2017M3A9E8029717, 2017M3A9E9072669, 2019M3A9B6065231) and by a grant from the National R&D Programme for Cancer Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare (HA16C0015). This study was also supported by the Research Foundation of Yonsei University (No. 6-2017-0104).
© 2020, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Cancer Research UK.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research