During the last decades, the management for metastatic colorectal cancer patients has improved due to novel therapeutic approaches. A mismatch-repair deficient status seems to favour a better response to checkpoint inhibitor therapy, but the question arises whether a specific subgroup of stage IV patients with mismatch-repair (MMR) proficient status should also be considered. RHAMM (Receptor for Hyaluronic Acid Mediated Motility/HAMMR/CD168) is characterized by tumor progression and immunogenicity. Therefore, the aim of this study is to determine whether RHAMM within the CRLM of MMR-proficient patients correlate with a more immunological microenvironment, represented by cytotoxic T-cells, PD-1 and PD-1.
Two patient cohorts of liver metastases from MMR colorectal cancers were included into the study (n = 81 and 76) using ngTMA® technology and immunohistochemically analyzed for RHAMM, cytotoxic T-cells (CD8+), PD-1/PD-L1, intrametastatic budding (IMB) and perimetastatic budding (PMB).
RHAMM-positive IMB was linked to a higher PD-L1 expression (r = 0.32; p = 0.233 and r = 0.28; p = 0.044) in the center and periphery of the metastasis and RHAMM-positive PMB was associated with a higher expression of PD-1 (r = 0.33; p = 0.0297), and especially PD-L1 (r = 0.604; p < 0.0001 and r = 0.43; p = 0.003) in the center and periphery of the metastasis. IMB and PMB were additionally associated with a higher count of CD8+ T-cells (p < 0.0001; r = 0.58; p < 0.0001; r = 0.53).
The RHAMM status can be assessed in IMB/PMB either in biopsies or in resections of colorectal cancer liver metastases. A positive RHAMM status in IMB and/or PMB may be a potential indicator for a checkpoint inhibitor therapy for stage IV colorectal cancer patients with MMR proficient status.

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