Intratumoral T cells, tumor-associated macrophages, and regulatory T cells: association with p53 mutations, circulating tumor DNA and survival in women with ovarian cancer

Gynecol Oncol. 2008 May;109(2):215-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2008.01.010. Epub 2008 Mar 7.


Objectives: Forty percent of women with ovarian cancer have circulating free tumor DNA. We sought to determine if the tumor immune infiltrate varied based on tumor p53 mutation status or presence of circulating tumor DNA.

Methods: We performed immunohistochemistry on 119 ovarian cancer specimens with CD3 and CD8 (Intratumoral T cells (TILs)), CD68 (tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs)), and FoxP3 (T regulatory cells (Tregs)). Tumors had been previously sequenced for mutations in exons 4-10 of p53, and plasma from women characterized for free tumor DNA.

Results: TIL and TAM levels were positively correlated (P<0.0001). High levels of TILs were identified in 54 of 119 tumors (45.4%). No survival difference was identified according to the presence of TILs or TAMs. Patients with greater TILs were more likely to be optimally cytoreduced (P=0.005). p53 mutations were associated with more TILs (P=0.008). The presence of circulating tumor DNA did not correlate with TILs, TAMs, or Tregs. In the subgroup with a low host antitumor immune response, the intermediate response Tregs group did have a survival advantage (P=0.049).

Conclusions: p53 mutations are associated with higher levels of TILs. The ratio of Tregs to TILS may be more important than absolute levels. A brisk T cell response within the tumor predicts adequacy of cytoreduction, suggesting successful cytoreduction may be partially due to underlying tumor biology and host response.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibody Formation
  • DNA, Neoplasm / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Macrophages / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / pathology
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics*


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53