Intratumoral, rather than stromal, CD8+ T cells could be a potential negative prognostic marker in invasive breast cancer patients

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BACKGROUND: Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) are widely considered a key sign of the immune interaction between host and tumor, and potentially prognostic biomarkers of good or bad outcome in many cancers, included invasive breast cancer (BC). However, results about the association between TIL typology, location and BC prognosis, are controversial. The aim of the study was to evaluated the prognostic significance of TIL subtypes (CD4+, CD8+, FOXP3+ T cells) and their location (stromal “s” and intratumoral “i” CD4+ and CD8+) in BC patients, focusing on the association between these markers and immunocheckpoint molecules such as cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4), programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) and its receptor (PD-1). METHODS: CD4+, CD8+, FOXP3+, CTLA4+, PD-L1+ and PD-1+ expression was examined by immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays (TMAs) from 180 BC patients. Univariate and Kaplan–Meier analyses of disease free survival (DFS) were performed to evaluate the prognostic significance of marker expression. RESULTS: Total CD8+ T cells were not significantly associated with DFS. Differently, patients with iCD8+ and sCD8+ overexpression showed a trend toward respectively a worse (P =.050) and a better 5-years DFS (P =.064). Interestingly, TIL expression of both PD-1+ and PD-L1+, was significantly associated with iCD8+ (P =.0004; P <.0001 respectively), while only TIL expression of PD-1 was associated with sCD8+ (P =.001). CONCLUSION: Our data show that iCD8+ T cells, but no sCD8+ T cells identify a subgroup of patients with poor DFS and this could be due to the overexpression of PD-L1/PD-1 pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-595
Number of pages11
JournalTranslational Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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