Background: T lymphocyte infiltration has been detected in glioma, although its significance remains unclear. The purpose of the present study was to explore the prognostic value of CD4(+) and CD8(+) tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in glioma, and the prognostic value of infiltrating Forkhead box protein 3 (FoxP3(+)) regulatory T cells were also investigated.
Methods: CD4(+), FoxP3(+) and CD8(+) TILs were assessed by immunohistochemical staining of tissue microarray cores from 284 gliomas. Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine the survival function of these TILs in 90 glioblastoma patients.
Results: The number of CD8(+) TILs was inversely correlated with tumour grade (P=0.025), whereas the number of CD4(+) TILs was positively correlated with tumour grade (P=0.002). FoxP3(+) TILs were only observed in glioblastomas, but not in low-grade astrocytomas or oligodendroglial tumours. Among patients with glioblastoma, none of CD4(+) TILs, FoxP3(+) TILs and CD8(+) TILs alone was significantly associated with patient prognosis. However, the presence of high CD4(+) and low CD8(+) TIL levels was an independent predictor of poor progress-free survival (multivariate hazard ratio (HR) 1.618, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.245-2.101, P<0.001) and poor overall survival (multivariate HR 1.508, 95% CI 1.162-1.956, P=0.002). Moreover, pseudoprogression was more often found in patients with high CD4(+) TILs and high CD8(+) TILs.
Conclusions: The combination of CD4(+) and CD8(+) TILs is a predictor of clinical outcome in glioblastoma patients, and a high level of CD4(+) TILs combined with low CD8(+) TILs was associated with unfavourable prognosis.