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Exploring CCL3 as a potential prognostic marker in Merkel cell carcinoma

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Title: Exploring CCL3 as a potential prognostic marker in Merkel cell carcinoma
Author(s): Jagdeo, Joanna
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine
Degree program: Master's Programme in Translational Medicine
Specialisation: Cross-disciplinary translational medicine
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2020
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare, neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin that is known to have poor prognosis. It is associated with the Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) and majority of cases harbor this infection. Other risk factors include older age, the male sex, Caucasian skin and increased ultraviolet exposure. Increased lymphocyte invasion into the MCC tumor microenvironment has been reported to infer better survival, but better mechanisms understanding why this occurs this is needed. CCL3 is a chemokine that is implicated in a variety of inflammatory conditions like viral infections and exhibits pro-inflammatory activity mainly through its chemoattractant abilities. In cancer specifically, it functions within the tumor microenvironment by encouraging the trafficking of leukocytes to the tumor site. Transcriptomic data of CCL3 was studied in a cohort of 102 Finnish MCC patients to observe its association with survival, and a variety of clinical-pathological features. The presence of CCL3 in cells was later investigated via immunohistochemistry in 30 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded Finnish MCC primary tumor tissue samples with varying mRNA expression of CCL3. Macrophages and lymphocytes were found to stain positively for CCL3 and were found exclusively in tumor surroundings. CCL3 was also found to exhibit a MCC-specific survival benefit in patients that harbored higher expression (p=0.031), and was found to be associated with MCPyV positivity (p=0.032). These preliminary findings help establish CCL3’s role in the immune response against MCC and support the need for further studies looking at CCL3 both as a prognostic marker and potential adjuvant therapeutic.

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