Background: The interactions between tumor cells and the host immune system play a crucial role in lung cancer progression and resistance to treatment. The alterations of EGFR signaling have the potential to produce an ineffective tumor-associated immune microenvironment by upregulating a series of immune suppressors, including inhibitory immune checkpoints, immunosuppressive cells, and cytokines. Elevated Heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF) expression, one EGFR ligand correlated with higher histology grading, worse patient prognosis, and lower overall survival rate, acts as a chemotactic factor. However, the role of heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) in the accumulation of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment remains unclear. Methods: The clinical association of HB-EGF expression in lung cancer was examined using the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) repository. HB-EGF expression in different cell types was determined using single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) dataset. The correlation between HB-EGF expression and cancer-immune infiltrated cells was investigated by performing TIMER and ClueGo pathways analysis from TCGA database. The chemotaxis of HB-EGF and macrophage infiltration was investigated using migration and immunohistochemical staining. Results: The high HB-EGF expression was significantly correlated with poor overall survival in patients with lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) but not lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSC). Moreover, HB-EGF expression was correlated with the infiltration of monocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, and dendritic cells in LUAD but not in LUSC. Analysis of scRNA-seq data revealed high HB-EGF expression in lung cancer cells and myeloid cells. Results from the pathway analysis and cell-based experiment indicated that elevated HB-EGF expression was associated with the presence of macrophage and lung cancer cell migration. HB-EGF was highly expressed in tumors and correlated with M2 macrophage infiltration in LUAD. Conclusions: HB-EGF is a potential prognostic marker and therapeutic target for lung cancer progression, particularly in LUAD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number963896
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 10 2022


  • bioinformatics
  • biomarker
  • heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HBEGF)
  • immune infiltration
  • macrophage chemotaxis
  • non-small cell lung cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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