Early Effector T Lymphocytes Coexpress Multiple Inhibitory Receptors in Primary Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

Elena Tassi, Giulia Grazia, Claudia Vegetti, Ilaria Bersani, Giulia Bertolini, Alessandra Molla, Paola Baldassari, Francesca Andriani, Luca Roz, Gabriella Sozzi, Ugo Pastorino, Roberta Mortarini, Andrea Anichini

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Clinical efficacy of PD-1/PD-L1 targeting relies upon the reactivation of tumor-specific but functionally impaired PD-1+ T cells present before therapy. Thus, analyzing early-stage primary tumors may reveal the presence of T cells that are not yet functionally impaired. In this study, we report that activated (HLA-DR+) T cells with an effector memory (TEM) profile are enriched in such lesions. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes coexpressed PD-1 with the inhibitory receptors TIM-3, CTLA-4, LAG-3, and TIGIT, but also displayed a recently activated, nonexhausted phenotype. We also identified a subset of CD8+PD-1+FOXP3+ T lymphocytes at the earliest phase of functional differentiation after priming, termed "early effector cells" (EEC), which also exhibited an activated nonexhausted phenotype, but was less differentiated and associated with coexpression of multiple inhibitory receptors. In response to autologous tumor, EECs upregulated CD107a, produced IL2 and IFNgamma, and were competent for differentiation. The identification of EECs marked by inhibitory receptor expression at tumor sites will enable investigations of early stages of adaptive antitumor immunity, as well as support the rationale for administering immunotherapy in early-stage non-small cell lung cancer. Cancer Res; 77(4);
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)851-861
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2017

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