Prognostic significance of tumor-infiltrating T cells in ovarian cancer: a meta-analysis

Gynecol Oncol. 2012 Feb;124(2):192-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2011.09.039. Epub 2011 Oct 29.


Objective: The presence of T cells within the epithelial component of tumors, as histologic evidence of anti-tumor immunity, has been associated with a survival advantage in multiple studies across diverse patient cohorts. We performed a meta-analysis of studies evaluating the prognostic value of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) on survival among women with ovarian cancer and to investigate factors associated with variations in this effect, including patient characteristics, surgical outcomes, tumor histology, and study protocols.

Method: Published studies that evaluated the association between TIL and patient survival were identified. Descriptive statistics, outcome data, and study quality were extracted from studies that met inclusion criteria. Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals were pooled across studies using the random-effects model. Publication bias was investigated using a funnel plot and heterogeneity was assessed with subgroup analysis and I(2) statistics.

Results: Ten suitable studies comprising 1815 patients with ovarian cancer were analyzed. Our results demonstrate that a lack of intraepithelial TILs is significantly associated with a worse survival among patients (pooled HR: 2.24, 95% CI; 1.71-2.91). Variations in the prognostic value of TIL status based on debulking status, scoring method, and geographic regions were identified.

Conclusions: Intraepithelial TILs are a robust predictor of outcome in ovarian cancer and define a specific class of patients, whose distinct tumor biology should be taken into account in devising appropriate therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Prognosis