Background: Tumour-associated lymphocytes (TALs) have been linked with good prognosis in several solid tumours. This study aimed to evaluate the prognostic significance of CD3, CD8 and CD20 positive lymphocytes in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.
Methods: After histological re-evaluation of the tumours of 81 patients who underwent surgical resection for exclusively pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, tissue micro-arrays (TMA) were constructed and immunohistochemistry was performed for CD3, CD8 and CD20. The number of lymphocytes within specific tumour compartments (i.e. stromal and intratumoural) was quantified. X-tile software (Yale School of Medicine, CT, USA) was used to stratify patients into 'high' and 'low' for each of the lymphocytes stained and their association with survival. Receiver operating curves (ROC) were constructed to evaluate the association between the TALs, alone and in combination, with clinicopathological features.
Results: CD3 and CD8 positive lymphocytes were associated with grade of tumour differentiation. The presence of intratumoural CD3 positive cells was associated with improved survival (p = 0.028), and intratumoural and stromal CD3 in combination also correlated with improved survival (p = 0.043). When CD20 positive lymphocyte levels were high, survival improved (p = 0.029) and similar results were seen for CD20 in combination with intratumoural CD3 (p = 0.001) and stromal CD8 (p = 0.013).
Conclusions: This study has shown a correlation between the presence of TALs and survival in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.