Unregulated T-cell and Interferon-Γ-related Gene Expression is Associated with Increased Survival in Recurrent Pediatric High-Grade Glioma

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Davidson T, Hugo W, Wang A, Kim J, Li G, Prins R.
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Recurrent pediatric high-grade glioma (pHGG) is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in children. Immunotherapy is a successful treatment approach for a growing number of cancers and is being investigated as a treatment strategy for pHGG. Immunotherapy has shown the most benefit in tumors with increased infiltrating T cells at baseline. Our recently published results revealed that neoadjuvant checkpoint inhibition in recurrent adult glioblastoma was associated with upregulation of a T cell and interferon-γ-related gene expression signature (Tcell-IFNγGES) and was correlated with a significantly extended overall survival (OS). In this study, we examined the immune landscape in recurrent pHGG and the association of Tcell-IFNγGES in the tumor with survival. We analyzed tumor RNAseq data collected at time of recurrence from a historical cohort of 42 pHGG patients from the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium. We found a significant transcriptional enrichment of Tcell-IFNγGES in 54% of the tumors. The survival of patients with high Tcell-IFNγGES was observed to be significantly higher than patients with low Tcell-IFNγGES, (log-rank p=0.05). The 3-year OS for patients with low versus high Tcell-IFNγGE was 28.5% (95%, CI:13.7%-59.5%) compared to 50.2% (95%, CI:33.1%-76.1%). When patients were stratified by age, gender and race, low Tcell-IFNγGES was found to be a poor OS prognostic factor (hazard ratio=2.4 (1.14–5.14), p=0.02). This indicates a strong relationship of decreased Tcell-IFNγGES and increased risk of death. Future investigations are necessary to validate these findings, and to explore the value of Tcell-IFNγGES as a predictive biomarker for response to immunotherapy in pHGG.