Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(3):685-694. doi:10.7150/ijms.51918 This issue

Research Paper

Exploration of the relationship between tumor mutation burden and immune infiltrates in colon adenocarcinoma

Rong Ouyang1,2, Zhongzhuan Li2, Peng Peng1, Jinxiu Zhang1, Jun Liu1,2, Mengbin Qin1, Jiean Huang1✉

1. Department of Gastroenterology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi Medical University, Nanning, China
2. Department of Gastroenterology, Liuzhou Worker's Hospital, Liuzhou, China

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Ouyang R, Li Z, Peng P, Zhang J, Liu J, Qin M, Huang J. Exploration of the relationship between tumor mutation burden and immune infiltrates in colon adenocarcinoma. Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(3):685-694. doi:10.7150/ijms.51918. Available from

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Background: Tumor mutation burden (TMB) was correlated with the immunotherapeutic response in various malignancies. We aimed to evaluate the TMB immune signature in colon adenocarcinoma (COAD).

Methods: Gene expression profile, mutation and clinical data of COAD patients were obtained from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database. The samples were divided into high and low TMB level groups to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs). Functional enrichments analyzes were performed to identify the biological functions of the DEGs. Then, immune cell infiltration signatures were calculated by the CIBERSORT algorithm. Finally, Cox proportional hazard model was constructed to estimate the prognostic value of the identified immune-related genes.

Results: Gene set enrichment analysis in the high-TMB level group showed that DEGS were enriched in immune-related pathways, such as antigen processing and presentation, Toll-like receptor signaling and natural killer cell-mediated cytotoxicity. A higher infiltration level of CD8+ T cells, CD4+ T cells, activated NK cells , M1 Macrophages and T follicular helper cells was observed in the high-TMB level group. Furthermore, a Cox regression model combined with survival analysis based on the expression level of four identified prognostic genes was constructed, validated anf revealed that higher risk-score levels conferred poor survival outcomes in COAD patients.

Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that the high TMB levels are associated with an immune signature in COAD and deepen the molecular understanding of TMB function in tumor immunotherapy.

Keywords: Tumor mutation burden (TMB), colon adenocarcinoma (COAD), immune signature, prognosis