Transcriptome analysis reveals upregulation of immune response pathways at the invasive tumour front of metastatic seminoma germ cell tumours.

Testicular germ cell tumours (TGCTs) have a high metastasis rate. However, the mechanisms related to their invasion, progression and metastasis are unclear. Therefore, we investigated gene expression changes that might be linked to metastasis in seminomatous testicular germ cell tumour (STGCT) patients.

Defined areas [invasive tumour front (TF) and tumour centre (TC)] of non-metastatic (with surveillance and recurrence-free follow-up >2 years) and metastatic STGCTs were collected separately using laser capture microdissection. The expression of 760 genes related to tumour progression and metastasis was analysed using nCounter technology and validated with quantitative real-time PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Distinct gene expression patterns were observed in metastatic and non-metastatic seminomas with respect to both the TF and TC. Comprehensive pathway analysis showed enrichment of genes related to tumour functions such as inflammation, angiogenesis and metabolism at the TF compared to the TC. Remarkably, prominent inflammatory and cancer-related pathways, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) signalling, integrin signalling and nuclear factor-κB signalling, were significantly upregulated in the TF of metastatic vs non-metastatic tumours.

IL-6 signalling was the most significantly upregulated pathway in metastatic vs non-metastatic tumours and therefore could constitute a therapeutic target for future personalised therapy. In addition, this is the first study showing intra- and inter-tumour heterogeneity in STGCT.

British journal of cancer. 2022 Jan 12 [Epub ahead of print]

Tim Nestler, Priya Dalvi, Friederike Haidl, Maike Wittersheim, Melanie von Brandenstein, Pia Paffenholz, Svenja Wagener-Ryczek, David Pfister, Ulrike Koitzsch, Martin Hellmich, Reinhard Buettner, Margarete Odenthal, Axel Heidenreich

Department of Urology, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany., Institute of Pathology, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany., Institute of Medical Statistics and Computational Biology, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany., Department of Urology, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany. .

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