Immunological metagene signatures derived from immunogenic cancer cell death associate with improved survival of patients with lung, breast or ovarian malignancies: A large-scale meta-analysis

Abhishek D. Garg*, Dirk De Ruysscher, Patrizia Agostinis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Web of Science)


The emerging role of the cancer cell-immune cell interface in shaping tumorigenesis/anticancer immunotherapy has increased the need to identify prognostic biomarkers. Henceforth, our primary aim was to identify the immunogenic cell death (ICD)-derived metagene signatures in breast, lung and ovarian cancer that associate with improved patient survival. To this end, we analyzed the prognostic impact of differential gene-expression of 33 pre-clinically-validated ICD-parameters through a large-scale meta-analysis involving 3,983 patients ('discovery' dataset) across lung (1,432), breast (1,115) and ovarian (1,436) malignancies. The main results were also substantiated in 'validation' datasets consisting of 818 patients of same cancer-types (i.e. 285 breast/274 lung/259 ovarian). The ICD-associated parameters exhibited a highly-clustered and largely cancer type-specific prognostic impact. Interestingly, we delineated ICD-derived consensus-metagene signatures that exhibited a positive prognostic impact that was either cancer type-independent or specific. Importantly, most of these ICD-derived consensus-metagenes (acted as attractor-metagenes and thereby) 'attracted' highly co-expressing sets of genes or convergent-metagenes. These convergent-metagenes also exhibited positive prognostic impact in respective cancer types. Remarkably, we found that the cancer type-independent consensus-metagene acted as an 'attractor' for cancer-specific convergent-metagenes. This reaffirms that the immunological prognostic landscape of cancer tends to segregate between cancer-independent and cancer-type specific gene signatures. Moreover, this prognostic landscape was largely dominated by the classical T cell activity/infiltration/function-related biomarkers. Interestingly, each cancer type tended to associate with biomarkers representing a specific T cell activity or function rather than pan-T cell biomarkers. Thus, our analysis confirms that ICD can serve as a platform for discovery of novel prognostic metagenes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1069938
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Anti-tumor immunity
  • biomarkers
  • immunogenicity
  • inflammation
  • overall survival
  • prognostics
  • prognostic factor

Cite this