Kidney Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

IKCS 2019: Evaluating CD73 Expression in Renal Cell Tumors

By: Joseph Fanelli
Posted: Monday, December 23, 2019

According to findings presented at the 2019 International Kidney Cancer Symposium (IKCS) in Miami, CD73 expression in tumors may be associated with unfavorable pathologic features for patients with renal cell carcinoma. CD73 expression also appeared to be associated with advanced-stage disease and a poor prognosis, as well as an increase in immunosuppressive T cells and a decrease in natural killer (NK) and Th17 cells in the tumor microenvironment, noted Abhishek Tripathi, MD, of the Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma, and colleagues.

“Our results provide [a] strong rationale for targeting the CD73-adenosine pathway in advanced [renal cell carcinoma],” the authors concluded.

In this study, the investigators assessed the CD73 protein expression using immunohistochemistry on renal cell carcinoma tumor tissue from 138 patients diagnosed with localized or de novo metastatic renal cell carcinoma. These patients were treated with nephrectomy at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. In a complementary analysis using data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), patients were tested for NT5E mRNA expression.

Any grade of CD73 expression was discovered in 23% of patients with localized disease and in 55% of those with de novo disease. High expression of CD73 was “significantly associated” with nuclear grade 3 disease, advanced T-stage disease, and the presence of sarcomatoid histology. Patients with localized disease and high tumor CD73 expression exhibited worse 5-year disease-free survival rates (42%) and 10-year overall survival rates (22%) than those who displayed no such expression, after adjusting for nuclear grade and stage (75% and 64%, respectively).

In the TCGA subgroup, high NT5E mRNA expression seemed to be tied to a “significant decrease” in the expression of CD56 bright NK and Th17 T-cell markers; it also appeared to be associated with increased expression of markers of immunosuppressive type 2 helper and regulatory T cells.

Disclosure: The full disclosures of the study authors can be found at

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