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Topalov, N. E.; Mayr, D.; Kuhn, C.; Leutbecher, A.; Scherer, C.; Kraus, F. B. T.; Tauber, C. V.; Beyer, S.; Meister, S.; Hester, A.; Kolben, T.; Burges, A.; Mahner, S.; Trillsch, F.; Kessler, M.; Jeschke, U.; Czogalla, B. (2023): Characterization and prognostic impact of ACTBL2-positive tumor-infiltrating leukocytes in epithelial ovarian cancer. Scientific Reports, 13 (1). ISSN 2045-2322

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Actin beta-like 2 (ACTBL2) was recently identified as a new mediator of migration in ovarian cancer cells. Yet, its impact on tumor-infiltrating and thus migrating leukocytes (TILs) remains to date unknown. This study characterizes the subset of ACTBL2-expressing TILs in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) and elucidates their prognostic influence on the overall survival of EOC patients with special regard to different histological subtypes. Comprehensive immunohistochemical analyses of Tissue-Microarrays of 156 ovarian cancer patients revealed, that a tumor infiltration by ACTBL2-positive leukocytes was significantly associated with an improved overall survival (OS) (61.2 vs. 34.4 months; p = 0.006) and was identified as an independent prognostic factor (HR = 0.556; p = 0.038). This significant survival benefit was particularly evident in patients with low-grade serous carcinoma (OS: median not reached vs. 15.6 months, p < 0.001; HR = 0.058, p = 0.018). In the present cohort, ACTBL2-positive TILs were mainly composed of CD44-positive cytotoxic T-cells (CD8+) and macrophages (CD68+), as depicted by double-immunofluorescence and various immunohistochemical serial staining. Our results provide significant evidence of the prognostic impact and cellular composition of ACTBL2-expressing TILs in EOC. Complementary studies are required to analyze the underlying molecular mechanisms of ACTBL2 as a marker for activated migrating leukocytes and to further characterize its immunological impact on ovarian carcinogenesis.

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