Age-related alterations in immune contexture are associated with aggressiveness in Rhabdomyosarcoma

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Adolescents and young adults (AYA) with rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) form a subgroup of patients whose optimal clinical management and access to care remain a challenge and whose survival lacks behind that of children diagnosed with histologically similar tumors. Understanding the tumor biology that differentiates children from AYA-RMS could provide critical information and drive new initiatives to improve the final outcome. MicroRNA (miRNA) and gene expression profiling (GEP) was evaluated in a RMS cohort of 49 tumor and 15 non-neoplastic tissues. miRNAs analysis identified miR-223 over-expression and miR-431 down-regulation in AYA, validated by Real-Time PCR and miRNA in situ hybridization (ISH). GEP analysis detected 793 age-correlated genes in tumors, of which 194 were anti-correlated. NOTCH2, FGFR1/2 were significantly down-modulated in AYA-RMS. miR-223 was associated with up-regulation of epithelial mesenchymal translation (EMT) and inflammatory pathways, whereas miR-431 was correlated to myogenic differentiation and muscle metabolism. GEP showed an increase in genes associated with CD4 memory resting cells and a decrease in genes associated with γδ T-cells in AYA-RMS. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) analysis demonstrated an increase of infiltrated CD4, CD8, and neutrophils in AYA-RMS tumors. Our results show that aggressiveness of AYA-RMS could be explained by differences in microenvironmental signal modulation mediated by tumor cells, suggesting a fundamental role of immune contexture in AYA-RMS development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1380
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019


  • Adolescents
  • Gene expression
  • Immune contexture
  • MiRNA
  • Pediatric tumors
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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