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J Immunol. 2016 Dec 1;197(11):4493-4503. Epub 2016 Oct 31.

Lung Cancer Subtypes Generate Unique Immune Responses.

Author information

Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109.
Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology, Medical University of Graz, A-8010 Graz, Austria.
Human Biology Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109; and.
Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109;
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98109.


Lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, is a heterogeneous disease comprising multiple histologic subtypes that harbor disparate mutational profiles. Immune-based therapies have shown initial promise in the treatment of lung cancer patients but are limited by low overall response rates. We sought to determine whether the host immune response to lung cancer is dictated, at least in part, by histologic and genetic differences, because such correlations would have important clinical ramifications. Using mouse models of lung cancer, we show that small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and lung adenocarcinoma (ADCA) exhibit unique immune cell composition of the tumor microenvironment. The total leukocyte content was markedly reduced in SCLC compared with lung ADCA, which was validated in human lung cancer specimens. We further identified key differences in immune cell content using three models of lung ADCA driven by mutations in Kras, p53, and Egfr Although Egfr-mutant cancers displayed robust myeloid cell recruitment, they failed to mount a CD8+ immune response. In contrast, Kras-mutant tumors displayed significant expansion of multiple immune cell types, including CD8+ cells, regulatory T cells, IL-17A-producing lymphocytes, and myeloid cells. A human tissue microarray annotated for KRAS and EGFR mutations validated the finding of reduced CD8+ content in human lung ADCA. Taken together, these findings establish a strong foundational knowledge of the immune cell contexture of lung ADCA and SCLC and suggest that molecular and histological traits shape the host immune response to cancer.

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