Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes predict response to chemotherapy in patients with advance non-small cell lung cancer

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2012 Oct;61(10):1849-56. doi: 10.1007/s00262-012-1231-7. Epub 2012 Mar 29.


Accumulating preclinical evidence suggests that anticancer immune responses contribute to the success of chemotherapy. The predictive significance of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) for response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the prognostic and predictive value of TIL subtypes in patients with advanced NSCLC treated with platinum-based chemotherapy. In total, 159 patients with stage III and IV NSCLC were retrospectively enrolled. The prevalence of CD3(+), CD4(+), CD8(+) and Foxp3(+) TILs was assessed by immunohistochemistry in tumor tissue obtained before chemotherapy. The density of TILs subgroups was treated as dichotomous variables using the median values as cutoff. Survival curves were estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method, and differences in overall survival between groups were determined using the Log-rank test. Prognostic effects of TIL subsets density were evaluated by Cox regression analysis. The presence of CD3(+), CD4(+), CD8(+), and FOXP3(+) TILs was not correlated with any clinicopathological features. Neither the prevalence of TILs nor combined analysis displayed obvious prognostic performances for overall survival in Cox regression model. Instead, higher FOXP3(+)/CD8(+) ratio in tumor sites was an independent factor for poor response to platinum-based chemotherapy in overall cohort. These findings suggest that immunological CD8(+) and FOXP3(+)Tregs cell infiltrate within tumor environment is predictive of response to platinum-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy in advanced NSCLC patients. The understanding of the clinical relevance of the microenvironmental immunological milieu might provide an important clue for the design of novel strategies in cancer immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • CD3 Complex / analysis
  • CD4 Antigens / analysis
  • CD8 Antigens / analysis
  • Carboplatin / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / analysis
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • CD3 Complex
  • CD4 Antigens
  • CD8 Antigens
  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Carboplatin
  • Cisplatin