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Immune profiling reveals enrichment of distinct immune signatures in high-risk oral potentially malignant disorders

Oral epithelial dysplasia (OED) associates with an increased risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Changes in the immune landscape of OED that accompany transformation remain understudied. We evaluated gene co-expression in benign lesions (fibroepithelial polyps; FEP), high-risk OED (mod-sev OED) and early stage OSCC. We demonstrate that transcripts indicating immune responses are enriched in high-risk OED. In particular, immune signatures representing high lymphocyte infiltration and cytotoxic responses are prominent, indicating active immunosurveillance. Expression of immune checkpoint molecules was enriched in high-risk OED and further increased in early stage OSCC. Seventy percent of high-risk OED displayed a T cell-inflamed phenotype histology suggesting that they might be responsive to anti-PD-1 immunoprevention. Other immunoprevention strategies are required for the 30% of high-risk OED are not immune-enriched. Overall, our data point the way for new approaches to non-surgical management of OED.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001007970 Illumina HiSeq 2500 10
Publications Citations
Transcriptional analysis highlights three distinct immune profiles of high-risk oral epithelial dysplasia.
Front Immunol 13: 2022 954567