PloS one

CXCL17 expression predicts poor prognosis and correlates with adverse immune infiltration in hepatocellular carcinoma.

PMID 25303284


CXC ligand 17 (CXCL17) is a novel CXC chemokine whose clinical significance remains largely unknown. In the present study, we characterized the prognostic value of CXCL17 in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and evaluated the association of CXCL17 with immune infiltration. We examined CXCL17 expression in 227 HCC tissue specimens by immunohistochemical staining, and correlated CXCL17 expression patterns with clinicopathological features, prognosis, and immune infiltrate density (CD4 T cells, CD8 T cells, B cells, natural killer cells, neutrophils, macrophages). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed that both increased intratumoral CXCL17 (P = 0.015 for overall survival [OS], P = 0.003 for recurrence-free survival [RFS]) and peritumoral CXCL17 (P = 0.002 for OS, P<0.001 for RFS) were associated with shorter OS and RFS. Patients in the CXCL17low group had significantly lower 5-year recurrence rate compared with patients in the CXCL17high group (peritumoral: 53.1% vs. 77.7%, P<0.001, intratumoral: 58.6% vs. 73.0%, P = 0.001, respectively). Multivariate Cox proportional hazards analysis identified peritumoral CXCL17 as an independent prognostic factor for both OS (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.066, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.296-3.292, P = 0.002) and RFS (HR = 1.844, 95% CI = 1.218-2.793, P = 0.004). Moreover, CXCL17 expression was associated with more CD68 and less CD4 cell infiltration (both P<0.05). The combination of CXCL17 density and immune infiltration could be used to further classify patients into subsets with different prognosis for RFS. Our results provide the first evidence that tumor-infiltrating CXCL17+ cell density is an independent prognostic factor that predicts both OS and RFS in HCC. CXCL17 production correlated with adverse immune infiltration and might be an important target for anti-HCC therapies.