The Accumulation and Prognosis Value of Tumor Infiltrating IL-17 Producing Cells in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma

PLoS One. 2011 Mar 31;6(3):e18219. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018219.


Background: The role of IL-17 producing cells in tumors is controversial. In the present study, we investigated the prognostic value of measuring tumor-infiltrating IL-17 producing cell levels in human esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).

Methodology/principal findings: Immunohistochemical staining was performed to investigate the levels of IL-17+ tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), as well as CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and CD57+ natural killer (NK) cells from 181 ESCC patients. The prognostic value of measuring the densities of IL-17+TILs and the correlation with CTLs and NK was evaluated. IL-17 producing cells were detected in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma tissues. The IL-17 producing cells were major CD4 positive, but Foxp3 negative. The median level of IL-17+TILs was 3.90 cells/high power microscopic field (HPF). The density of IL-17 producing cells correlated negatively with T stage (P=0.042). The higher densities of tumor infiltrating IL-17+ lymphocytes were associated with better overall survival (P=0.031). Furthermore, we found that there were positive correlations between levels of IL-17 producing cells and the densities of CD8+cells, as well as CD57+cells (r=0.198, P=0.008 for CD8+ cells and r=0.261, P<0.001 for CD57+ cells, respectively). The prognosis analysis also showed that the higher levels of CD8+ CTLs and CD57+ NK cells correlated with better overall survival of ESCC patients.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that tumor infiltrating IL-17 producing cells in ESCC patients may have protective roles in the tumor microenvironment and may be treated as a prognostic marker for ESCC patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • CD57 Antigens / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interleukin-17 / metabolism*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • CD57 Antigens
  • Interleukin-17