The tumor-host interaction in the tumor microenvironment (TME) affects the prognosis of patients with malignant tumors. TME assessed via tumor budding (BD) and tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) had a prognostic impact in patients with nonampullary small intestinal and colorectal carcinomas. In ampullary carcinoma (AC), MUC5AC was recently revealed as a significant prognosticator, but studies about the TME have not been conducted.


To assess TME-based prognostic risk in AC.


We generated a collective TME risk index based on high-grade BD at the invasive front (BD3) and high density of stromal-TIL (>5%) in 64 surgically resected ACs. We evaluated its predictive values for overall survival (OS) and recurrence-free survival (RFS). We also investigated the relationship of TME to MUC5AC expression.


TME prognostic risk index was classified into low-risk (BDLow/TILHigh; 26 of 64; 41%), intermediate-risk (BDLow/TILLow or BDHigh/TILHigh; 23; 36%), and high-risk (BDHigh/TILLow; 15; 23%) groups. Higher TME prognostic risk was associated with higher tumor grade (P = .03), lymphovascular invasion (P = .05), and MUC5AC immunopositivity (P = .02). TME prognostic risk index displayed better predictive ability for both OS (53.9 versus 46.1 versus 42.2) and RFS (24.8 versus 16.9 versus 15.3) than BD or TIL alone. In multivariate analysis, TME prognostic risk index was an independent prognosticator for OS (P = .003) and RFS (P = .03).


TME risk index in combination with BD and TIL was a stronger predictor of prognostic risk stratification than either BD or TIL alone for both OS and RFS in patients with AC. MUC5AC may modulate the interaction between tumor cells and immunity toward enhancing invasiveness in TME.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Author notes

This work was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea grant funded by the Korean government (MSIT) (No. 2021R1A2C1003898, awarded to Jun).

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. See text for hyperlink.

Competing Interests

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

Supplementary data