Immunotherapy is emerging as a promising option for lung cancer treatment. Various endothelial adhesion molecules, such as integrin and selectin, as well as various cellular barrier molecules such as desmosome and tight junctions, regulate T-cell infiltration in the tumor microenvironment. However, little is known regarding how these molecules affect immune cells in patients with lung cancer. We demonstrated for the first time that overexpression of endothelial adhesion molecules and cellular barrier molecule genes was linked to differential infiltration of particular immune cells in non-small cell lung cancer. Overexpression of endothelial adhesion molecule genes is associated with significantly lower infiltration of activated CD4 and CD8 T-cells, but higher infiltration of activated B-cells and regulatory T-cells. In contrast, overexpression of desmosome genes was correlated with significantly higher infiltration of activated CD4 and CD8 T-cells, but lower infiltration of activated B-cells and regulatory T-cells in lung adenocarcinoma. This inverse relation of immune cells aligns with previous studies of tumor-infiltrating B-cells inhibiting T-cell activation. Although overexpression of endothelial adhesion molecule or cellular barrier molecule genes alone was not predictive of overall survival in our sample, these genetic signatures may serve as biomarkers of immune exclusion, or resistance to T-cell mediated immunotherapy.
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