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Open Access Research article

Co-expression of nuclear and cytoplasmic HMGB1 is inversely associated with infiltration of CD45RO+ T cells and prognosis in patients with stage IIIB colon cancer

Rui-Qing Peng12, Xiao-Jun Wu13, Ya Ding12, Chun-Yan Li15, Xing-Juan Yu14, Xing Zhang12, Zhi-Zhong Pan13, De-Sen Wan13, Li-Ming Zheng12, Yi-Xin Zeng124 and Xiao-Shi Zhang12*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, 651 Dongfeng R E, 510060, Guangzhou, China

2 Biotherapy Center, Cancer Center, Sun Yat-sen University, 651 Dongfeng R E, 510060, Guangzhou, China

3 Department of Colorectal Surgery, Cancer Center, Sun Yat-sen University, 651 Dongfeng R E, 510060, Guangzhou, China

4 Department of Experimental Research, Cancer Center, Sun Yat-sen University, 651 Dongfeng R E, 510060, Guangzhou, China

5 Biotherapy Center, The First Affiliated Hospital, Chongqing Medical University, 1 Youyi R, 400016, Chongqing, China

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:496  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-496

Published: 16 September 2010

Abstract

Background

The intratumoral infiltration of T cells, especially memory T cells, is associated with a favorable prognosis in early colorectal cancers. However, the mechanism underlying this process remains elusive. This study examined whether high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), a damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) molecule, is involved in the infiltration of T cells and disease progression in locally advanced colon cancer.

Methods

Seventy-two cases of pathologically-confirmed specimens were obtained from patients with stage IIIB (T3N1M0) colon cancer who underwent radical resection between January 1999 and May 2002 at the Cancer Center of Sun Yat-Sen University. The density of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) within the tumor tissue and the expression of HMGB1 in the cancer cells were examined via immunohistochemical analysis. The phenotype of CD45RO+ cells was confirmed using a flow cytometric assay. The association between HMGB1 expression, the density of TILs, and the 5-year survival rate were analyzed.

Results

The density of CD45RO+ T cells within the tumor was independently prognostic, although a higher density of CD3+ T cells was also associated with a favorable prognosis. More importantly, the expression of HMGB1 was observed in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm (co-expression pattern) in a subset of colon cancer tissues, whereas nuclear-only expression of HMGB1 (nuclear expression pattern) existed in most of the cancer tissues and normal mucosa. The co-expression pattern of HMGB1 in colon cancer cells was inversely associated with the infiltration of both CD3+ and CD45RO+ T cells and 5-year survival rates.

Conclusions

This study revealed that the co-expression of HMGB1 is inversely associated with the infiltration of CD45RO+ T cells and prognosis in patients with stage IIIB colon cancer, indicating that the distribution patterns of HMGB1 might contribute to the progression of colon cancer via modulation of the local immune response.