Composite analysis of immunological and metabolic markers defines novel subtypes of triple negative breast cancer
Cancer biology is influenced by the tumor microenvironment, which impacts disease prognosis and therapeutic interventions. The inter-relationship of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, immune response regulators, and a glycolytic tumor environment was evaluated in a cohort of 183 largely consecutive patients with triple negative breast cancer diagnosis. High levels of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes were associated with improved survival of triple negative breast cancer cases. However, elevated levels of PD-L1, CD163, and FOXP3 were individually associated with significantly decreased overall survival. These three determinants were significantly correlated, and could serve to differentiate the prognostic significance of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Interestingly, a glycolytic tumor environment, as determined by the expression of MCT4 in the tumor stroma, was associated with the immune evasive environment and poor prognosis. Clustering of all markers defined four distinct triple negative breast cancer subtypes that harbored prognostic significance in multivariate analysis. Immune and metabolic markers stratified triple negative breast cancer into subtypes that have prognostic significance and implications for therapies targeting immune checkpoints and tumor metabolism.