High-Grade Endometrial Stromal Sarcoma: Molecular Alterations and Potential Immunotherapeutic Strategies

Youngah Kim, Dohyang Kim, Woo Jung Sung, Jaewoo Hong

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Endometrial stromal tumor (EST) is an uncommon and unusual mesenchymal tumor of the uterus characterized by multicolored histopathological, immunohistochemical, and molecular features. The morphology of ESTs is similar to normal endometrial stromal cells during the proliferative phase of the menstrual cycle. ESTs were first classified into benign and malignant based on the number of mitotic cells. However, recently WHO has divided ESTs into four categories: endometrial stromal nodules (ESN), undifferentiated uterine sarcoma (UUS), low-grade endometrial stromal sarcoma (LG-ESS), and high-grade endometrial stromal sarcoma (HG-ESS). HG-ESS is the most malignant of these categories, with poor clinical outcomes compared to other types. With advances in molecular biology, ESTs have been further classified with morphological identification. ESTs, including HG-ESS, is a relatively rare type of cancer, and the therapeutics are not being developed compared to other cancers. However, considering the tumor microenvironment of usual stromal cancers, the advance of immunotherapy shows auspicious outcomes reported in many different stromal tumors and non-identified uterine cancers. These studies show the high possibility of successful immunotherapy in HG-ESS patients in the future. In this review, we are discussing the background of ESTs and the BCOR and the development of HG-ESS by mutations of BCOR or other related genes. Among the gene mutations of HG-ESSs, BCOR shows the most common mutations in different ways. In current tumor therapies, immunotherapy is one of the most effective therapeutic approaches. In order to connect immunotherapy with HG-ESS, the understanding of tumor microenvironment (TME) is required. The TME of HG-ESS shows the mixture of tumor cells, vessels, immune cells and non-malignant stromal cells. Macrophages, neutrophils, dendritic cells and natural killer cells lose their expected functions, but rather show pro-tumoral functions by the matricellular proteins, extracellular matrix and other complicated environment in TME. In order to overcome the current therapeutic limitations of HG-ESS, immunotherapies should be considered in addition to the current surgical strategies. Checkpoint inhibitors, cytokine-based immunotherapies, immune cell therapies are good candidates to be considered as they show promising results in other stromal cancers and uterine cancers, while less studied because of the rarity of ESTs. Based on the advance of knowledge of immune therapies in HG-ESS, the new strategies can also be applied to the current therapies and also in other ESTs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number837004
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb 15

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Kim, Kim, Sung and Hong.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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