Association of Suppressive Myeloid Cell Enrichment with Aggressive Oropharynx Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Changlin Yang, Rekha Garg, Kristanna Fredenburg, Frances Weidert, Hector Mendez-Gomez, Robert Amdur, Ji Hyun Lee, Jamie Ku, Jesse Kresak, Stephanie Staras, Andrew G. Sikora, Lily Wang, Daniel McGrail, Duane Mitchell, Elias Sayour, Natalie Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: While immune-cell infiltrated tumors, such as human papillomavirus positive (HPV+) ororpharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OPSCC) have been associated with an improved clinical prognosis, there is evidence to suggest that OPSCCs are also subjected to increased immunoregulatory influence. The objective of this study was to assess whether patients with clinically aggressive OPSCC have a distinct immunosuppressive immune signature in the primary tumor. Methods: This retrospective case-control study analyzed 37 pre-treatment tissue samples from HPV+ and HPV-negative OPSCC patients treated at a single institution. The cases were patients with known disease recurrence and the controls were patients without disease recurrence. An mRNA-expression immune-pathway profiling was performed, and correlated to clinical outcomes. The TCGA head and neck cancer database was utilized to make comparisons with the institutional cohort. Results: In our cohort, HPV-negative and HPV+ patients with known disease recurrence both had significantly increased suppressive monoctyte/macrophage and granulocyte cell-expression-profile enrichment. Similar findings were found in the TCGA cohort when comparing HPV-negative to positive patients. Conclusions: our study demonstrates that patients with recurrent HPV+ OPSCC had suppressive monocyte/macrophage and granulocyte immune-cell enrichment, similar to those seen in the more aggressive HPV-negative OPSCC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2346
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • TCGA
  • head and neck cancer
  • human papillomavirus
  • myeloid cell
  • oropharynx cancer


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