Purpose: Tumor-infiltrating T lymphocytes (TIL) play a key role in the clinical outcome of human colorectal cancer; however, the dynamics of their recruitment along colorectal cancer clinical progression have not been fully elucidated. Tertiary lymphoid tissue (TLT) is an ectopic organized lymph node-like structure that typically forms at sites of chronic inflammation and is involved in adaptive immune responses. Its occurrence in cancer is sporadically documented and its role and clinical relevance is largely unknown. Experimental Design: The occurrence of TLT, the correlation with TILs, and the clinical relevance were evaluated retrospectively, in a cohort study involving a consecutive series of 351 patients with stage II and III colorectal cancer. The role of TLT in lymphocyte recruitment was assessed in a preclinical model of colorectal cancer. Results: In both human colorectal cancer and in a murine model of colorectal cancer, we identified organized TLT, highly vascularized (including high endothelial venules), and correlated with the density of CD3+ TILs. Intravenous injection in mice of GFP splenocytes resulted in homing of lymphocytes to TLT, suggesting an active role of TLT in the recruitment of lymphocytes to tumor areas. Accordingly, TLT density and TIL infiltration correlated and were coordinated in predicting better patient's outcome among patients with stage II colorectal cancer. Conclusions: We provide evidence that TLT is associated with lymphocyte infiltration in colorectal cancer, providing a pathway of recruitment for TILs. TLT cooperates with TILs in a coordinated antitumor immune response, when identifying patients with low-risk early-stage colorectal cancer, thus, representing a novel prognostic biomarker for colorectal cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research