MDPI, Cancers, 9(13), p. 2219, 2021
Full text: Download
Multiple myeloma (MM) is characterized by loss of anti-tumor T cell immunity. Despite moderate success of treatment with anti-PD1 antibodies, effective treatment is still challenged by poor T cell-mediated control of MM. To better enable identification of shortcomings in T-cell immunity that relate to overall survival (OS), we interrogated transcriptomic data of bone marrow samples from eight clinical trials (n = 1654) and one trial-independent patient cohort (n = 718) for multivariate analysis. Gene expression of V-domain Ig suppressor of T cell activation (VISTA) was observed to correlate to OS [hazard ratio (HR): 0.72; 95% CI: 0.61–0.83; p = 0.005]. Upon imaging the immune contexture of MM bone marrow tissues (n = 22) via multiplex in situ stainings, we demonstrated that VISTA was expressed predominantly by CD11b+ myeloid cells. The combination of abundance of VISTA+, CD11b+ cells in the tumor but not stromal tissue together with low presence of CD8+ T cells in the same tissue compartment, termed a high VISTA-associated T cell exclusion score, was significantly associated with short OS [HR: 16.6; 95% CI: 4.54–62.50; p < 0.0001]. Taken together, the prognostic value of a combined score of VISTA+, CD11b+ and CD8+ cells in the tumor compartment could potentially be utilized to guide stratification of MM patients for immune therapies.