The non-small cell lung cancer immune contexture. A major determinant of tumor characteristics and patient outcome

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2015 Feb 15;191(4):377-90. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201409-1671PP.


Solid tumors, beyond mere accumulation of cancer cells, form a complex ecosystem consisting of normal epithelial cells, fibroblasts, blood and lymphatic vessels, structural components, and infiltrating hematopoietic cells including myeloid and lymphoid elements that impact tumor growth, tumor spreading, and clinical outcome. The composition of the immune microenvironment is diverse, including various populations of T cells, B cells, dendritic cells, natural killer cells, myeloid-derived suppressor cells, neutrophils, or macrophages. The immune contexture describes the density, location, and organization of these immune cells within solid tumors. In lung cancer, which is the deadliest type of cancer, and particularly in non-small cell lung cancer, its most prevalent form, reports have described some of the interactions between the tumor and the host. These data, in addition to articles on various types of tumors, provide a greater understanding of the tumor-host microenvironment interaction and stimulate the development of prognostic and predictive biomarkers, the identification of novel target antigens for therapeutic intervention, and the implementation of tools for long-term management of patients with cancer.

Keywords: immunotherapy; non–small cell lung cancer; prognosis; tumor immunology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prognosis
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Immunologic Factors