Increased proportion of FoxP3+ regulatory T cells in tumor infiltrating lymphocytes is associated with tumor recurrence and reduced survival in patients with glioblastoma

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2015 Apr;64(4):419-27. doi: 10.1007/s00262-014-1651-7. Epub 2015 Jan 3.


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive malignancy associated with profound host immunosuppression mediated in part by FoxP3 expressing regulatory CD4+ T lymphocytes (Tregs) that down-regulate anti-tumor immunity. In order to assess whether FoxP3 was an independent driver differentially expressed in primary versus recurrent GBMs, we stained resected primary and recurrent GBM tumors for CD3, CD4, CD8 and FoxP3 expression using standard immunohistochemistry. Slides were scanned with a high-resolution scanner (ScanScope CS; Aperio), and image analysis software (Aperio ScanScope) was used to enumerate lymphocyte subpopulations allowing for high-throughput analysis and bypassing manual selection bias. As shown in previous studies, enumeration of individual lymphocyte populations did not correlate with clinical outcomes in patients with GBM. However, the CD4+ to regulatory FoxP3+ T cell ratio was diminished in recurrent disease, and increased CD3 and CD8+ to regulatory T cell ratios showed a positive correlation with survival outcomes in primary GBM. These results suggest that while absolute numbers of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes may not be informative for predicting clinical outcomes in patients with GBM, the effective balance of CD3, CD4 and CD8+ T cells to immunosuppressive FoxP3+ regulatory cells may influence clinical outcomes in this patient population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / immunology
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Glioblastoma / immunology
  • Glioblastoma / mortality*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / immunology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Rate
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors