Proteomics of REPLICANT perfusate detects changes in the metastatic lymph node microenvironment.
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In breast cancer (BC), detecting low volumes of axillary lymph node (ALN) metastasis pre-operatively is difficult and novel biomarkers are needed. We recently showed that patient-derived ALNs can be sustained ex-vivo using normothermic perfusion. We now compare reactive (tumour-free; n = 5) and macrometastatic (containing tumour deposits >2 mm; n = 4) ALNs by combining whole section multiplex immunofluorescence with TMT-labelled LC-MS/MS of the circulating perfusate. Macrometastases contained significantly fewer B cells and T cells (CD4<sup>+</sup>/CD8<sup>+</sup>/regulatory) than reactive nodes (p = 0.02). Similarly, pathway analysis of the perfusate proteome (119/1453 proteins significantly differentially expressed) showed that immune function was diminished in macrometastases in favour of 'extracellular matrix degradation'; only 'neutrophil degranulation' was preserved. Qualitative comparison of the perfusate proteome to that of node-positive pancreatic and prostatic adenocarcinoma also highlighted 'neutrophil degranulation' as a contributing factor to nodal metastasis. Thus, metastasis-induced changes in the REPLICANT perfusate proteome are detectable, and could facilitate biomarker discovery.
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NPJ breast cancer, 2021, 7 (1), pp. 24 - ?