Predicting ovarian cancer relapse

April 22, 2024
Cedars-Sinai Cancer investigators use spatial tissue analysis to identify patterns associated with patient outcomes.

Using spatial analysis of tissue samples, Cedars-Sinai investigators have identified patterns that could predict whether patients with the most common type of ovarian cancer will experience early relapse after treatment.

These patterns, detailed in a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, could point to possible therapies.

In this study, investigators looked at tissue samples from 42 patients who had ovarian cancer—both primary tumors and tumors that recurred after patients’ initial treatment—using a technology called imaging mass cytometry, which reveals the spatial protein content of the tissue. The investigators’ main findings centered around plasma cells, a crucial part of the tumor immune response.

“Our findings suggest that plasma cells are a clinically important factor determining a patient’s time to relapse,” said Alex Xu, PhD, a research scientist at Cedars-Sinai Cancer and the Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute at Cedars-Sinai and first author of the study. “Previous research into their role has been contradictory, with some studies suggesting their presence predicted negative outcomes while others suggested positive outcomes.”

Here investigators found that outcomes were associated with the location of the plasma cells, and their relationship to adjacent cells types.

“Plasma cells were associated with good patient outcomes when lymphoid aggregates, which are structures that include T and B cells, were also abundant in the area immediately surrounding the tumor,” Xu said. “This could be because the plasma cells were part of these organized structures that facilitated communication between these immune cells, thus improving their ability to attack the tumor.”

Plasma cells were linked with poor patient outcomes when cells called cancer-associated fibroblasts, which are known to interfere with the activity of immune cells, were plentiful, which suggested that fibroblasts may be preventing plasma cells from communicating with other immune cells.  

Cedars-Sinai release on Newswise