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Scientific Reports


Since the outcome of treatments, particularly immunotherapeutic interventions, depends on the tumor immune micro-environment (TIM), several experimental and computational tools such as flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, and digital cytometry have been developed and utilized to classify TIM variations. In this project, we identify immune pattern of clear cell renal cell carcinomas (ccRCC) by estimating the percentage of each immune cell type in 526 renal tumors using the new powerful technique of digital cytometry. The results, which are in agreement with the results of a large-scale mass cytometry analysis, show that the most frequent immune cell types in ccRCC tumors are CD8+ T-cells, macrophages, and CD4+ T-cells. Saliently, unsupervised clustering of ccRCC primary tumors based on their relative number of immune cells indicates the existence of four distinct groups of ccRCC tumors. Tumors in the first group consist of approximately the same numbers of macrophages and CD8+ T-cells and and a slightly smaller number of CD4+ T cells than CD8+ T cells, while tumors in the second group have a significantly high number of macrophages compared to any other immune cell type (P-value < 0.01). The third group of ccRCC tumors have a significantly higher number of CD8+ T-cells than any other immune cell type (P-value < 0.01), while tumors in the group 4 have approximately the same numbers of macrophages and CD4+ T-cells and a significantly smaller number of CD8+ T-cells than CD4+ T-cells (P-value < 0.01). Moreover, there is a high positive correlation between the expression levels of IFNG and PDCD1 and the percentage of CD8+ T-cells, and higher stage and grade of tumors have a substantially higher percentage of CD8+ T-cells. Furthermore, the primary tumors of patients, who are tumor free at the last time of follow up, have a significantly higher percentage of mast cells (P-value < 0.01) compared to the patients with tumors for all groups of tumors except group 3.





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