CCR5 and CCL5 gene expression in colorectal cancer: comprehensive profiling and clinical value

January, 01, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


The C-C motif chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5)/C-C motif chemokine ligand 5 (CCL5) axis plays a major role in colorectal cancer (CRC). We aimed to characterize the molecular features associated with CCR5/CCL5 expression in CRC and to determine whether CCR5/CCL5 levels could impact treatment outcomes.


7604 CRCs tested with NextGen Sequencing on DNA and RNA were analyzed. Molecular features were evaluated according to CCR5 and CCL5 tumor gene expression quartiles. The impact on treatment outcomes was assessed in two cohorts, including 6341 real-world patients and 429 patients from the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB)/SWOG 80405 trial.


CCR5/CCL5 expression was higher in right-sided versus left-sided tumors, and positively associated with consensus molecular subtypes 1 and 4. Higher CCR5/CCL5 expression was associated with higher tumor mutational burden, deficiency in mismatch repair and programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) levels. Additionally, high CCR5/CCL5 were associated with higher immune cell infiltration in the tumor microenvironment (TME) of MMR proficient tumors. Ingenuity pathway analysis revealed upregulation of the programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1)/PD-L1 cancer immunotherapy pathway, phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPAR) signaling, and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) signaling in cytotoxic T lymphocytes, whereas several inflammation-related pathways were downregulated. Low CCR5/CCL5 expression was associated with increased benefit from cetuximab-FOLFOX treatment in the CALGB/SWOG 80405 trial, where significant treatment interaction was observed with biologic agents and chemotherapy backbone.


Our data show a strong association between CCR5/CCL5 gene expression and distinct molecular features, gene expression profiles, TME cell infiltration, and treatment benefit in CRC. Targeting the CCR5/CCL5 axis may have clinical applications in selected CRC subgroups and may play a key role in developing and deploying strategies to modulate the immune TME for CRC treatment.

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