Objective: To investigate the possible impact of FOXP3 expression in T-cells, as well as in tumour cells, on long-term survival in patients with urinary bladder cancer (UBC) invading muscle.
Patients and methods: In a retrospective study, tumour specimens from 37 patients cystectomized for T1-T4 UBC during 1999-2002 at the Karolinska University Hospital were examined by immunohistochemistry for tumour expression and/or infiltration of immune cells expressing FOXP3 as well as CD3. The results obtained were correlated with clinicopathological parameters, where the primary and secondary outcomes investigated were overall survival and progression-free survival, respectively.
Results: Infiltration of CD3(+) and FOXP3(+) lymphocytes (≥3 cells per high-power field) were both correlated with better survival, and this relationship persisted throughout the whole study period (all P < 0.05). Patients with FOXP3(+) tumour cells had decreased long-term survival compared to those patients with FOXP3(-) tumours (P < 0.05). Despite a limited amount of patient material, the results of the present study indicate that FOXP3 expression, in both lymphocytes and tumour cells, is an important prognostic factor in UBC.
Conclusions: FOXP3 expression in UBC cells is associated with decreased long-term survival and thus may be a novel negative prognostic factor in UBC invading muscle. By contrast, the presence of FOXP3(+) tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes was correlated with a positive prognosis. Because FOXP3 is up-regulated upon activation in human T-cells, FOXP3 may serve more as an activation marker than as a regulatory T-cell indicator in this case. These results support the need for larger prospective studies aiming to confirm the results obtained and to examine the underlying mechanisms in detail.
© 2010 THE AUTHORS. BJU INTERNATIONAL © 2010 BJU INTERNATIONAL.