Characterization of the immune microenvironment in malignant pleural mesothelioma reveals prognostic subgroups of patients

N. Fusco, V. Vaira, I. Righi, E. Sajjadi, K. Venetis, G. Lopez, M. Cattaneo, M. Castellani, L. Rosso, M. Nosotti, M. Clerici, S. Ferrero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare tumor with an extremely poor prognosis. Its pathogenesis is related to an immune response against asbestos fibers. The T-lymphocytes, including CD8POS and CD4POS cells, are an important part of the MPM immune microenvironment, and likely contribute to the therapy resistance observed in these tumors. Here, we sought to characterize the MPM-specific lymphocytes subpopulations within the tumor immune microenvironment to identify novel clinically relevant immunologic subtypes of tumors. Representative formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue blocks of 88 MPMs were included in tissue microarrays and subjected to tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) quantification and subtyping by immunohistochemistry (IHC) with antibodies specific for CD4, CD8, and CD19. Further, PD-L1 (clone 22C3) expression was assessed by IHC as a combined positive score (CPS). Our data show that PD-L1 expression by tumor cells or the presence of a sarcomatoid component is related to increased stromal TILs presence in MPM. Survival analyses showed that low CD4POS and high CD8POS stromal TILs are associated with poor patients’ survival. In MPMs with PD-L1 CPS > 1, stromal CD8HIGH was a poor prognostic factor, akin stromal CD4POS peritumoral TILs correlated with a worse prognosis. Furthermore, we demonstrated that a high CD4POS/CD8POS ratio in the tumor immune microenvironment is an independent prognostic factor for survival. Finally, we provided evidence that the characterization of the stromal immune landscape of MPM predicts responses to chemotherapy in subgroups of MPM. The results of this study provide novel insights into the clinical scenario of immune-related biomarkers in MPM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-61
Number of pages9
JournalLung Cancer
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mesothelioma
  • PD-L1
  • Prognosis
  • TILs
  • Tumor immune microenvironment


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