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High expression of B7-H3 on stromal cells defines tumor and stromal compartments in epithelial ovarian cancer and is associated with limited immune activation

  • MacGregor, Heather L.1, 2
  • Sayad, Azin2
  • Elia, Andrew2
  • Wang, Ben X.2
  • Katz, Sarah Rachel3
  • Shaw, Patricia A.1
  • Clarke, Blaise A.1
  • Crome, Sarah Q.1, 4
  • Robert-Tissot, Celine2
  • Bernardini, Marcus Q.3
  • Nguyen, Linh T.2
  • Ohashi, Pamela S.1, 2, 1
  • 1 University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
  • 2 University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
  • 3 Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
  • 4 University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada , Toronto (Canada)
Published Article
Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Dec 31, 2019
DOI: 10.1186/s40425-019-0816-5
Springer Nature


BackgroundB7-H3 and B7-H4 are highly expressed by many human malignancies making them attractive immunotherapeutic targets. However, their expression patterns and immune contexts in epithelial ovarian cancer have not been well characterized.MethodsWe used flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, and genomic analyses to determine the patterns of B7-H3, B7-H4, and PD-L1 expression by tumor, stromal, and immune cells in the ovarian tumor microenvironment (TME). We analyzed immune cell frequency and expression of PD-1, TIM3, LAG3, ICOS, TIA-1, granzyme B, 2B4, CD107a, and GITR on T cells; CD20, CD22, IgD, BTLA, and CD27 on B cells; CD16 on monocytes; and B7-H3, B7-H4, PD-L1, PD-L2, ICOSL, CD40, CD86, and CLEC9a on antigen-presenting cells by flow cytometry. We determined intratumoral cellular location of immune cells using immunohistochemistry. We compared differences in immune infiltration in tumors with low or high tumor-to-stroma ratio and in tumors from the same or unrelated patients.ResultsOn non-immune cells, B7-H4 expression was restricted to tumor cells whereas B7-H3 was expressed by both tumor and stromal cells. Stromal cells of the ovarian TME expressed high levels of B7-H3 compared to tumor cells. We used this differential expression to assess the tumor-to-stroma ratio of ovarian tumors and found that high tumor-to-stroma ratio was associated with increased expression of CD16 by monocytes, increased frequencies of PD-1high CD8+ T cells, increased PD-L1 expression by APCs, and decreased CLEC9a expression by APCs. We found that expression of PD-L1 or CD86 on APCs and the proportion of PD-1high CD4+ T cells were strongly correlated on immune cells from tumors within the same patient, whereas expression of CD40 and ICOSL on APCs and the proportion of PD-1high CD8+ T cells were not.ConclusionsThis study provides insight into the expression patterns of B7-H3 and B7-H4 in the ovarian TME. Further, we demonstrate an association between the tumor-to-stroma ratio and the phenotype of tumor-infiltrating immune cells. We also find that some but not all immune parameters show consistency between peritoneal metastatic sites. These data have implications for the design of immunotherapies targeting these B7 molecules in epithelial ovarian cancer.

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