Background: Tumoural infiltration of T lymphocytes is determined by local patterns of specific chemokine expression. In this report, we examined the roles of CCL4 and CCL20 in the accumulation of CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and regulatory T (Treg) lymphocytes in oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), and determined the correlations between chemokine expressions and ESCC patients' survival.
Methods: Reverse transcriptase-PCR and immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining were performed to examine the expressions of interested genes. Flow cytometry was adopted to check the expressions of CCL4- and CCL6-specific receptors, CCR5 and CCR6, on CTLs and Treg cells. In addition, transwell assay was carried on.
Results: The CCL4 expression was significantly correlated with the expression of CTL markers (CD8 and Granzyme B), whereas CCL20 was positively correlated with Treg markers (FoxP3 and IL-10). Consistently, CCR5 was found to be mainly expressed on CD8(+) T lymphocytes, while CCR6 showed prevalence on Treg lymphocytes and the frequencies of CCR5(+)CD8(+) CTLs and CCR6(+) Treg cells were higher in TIL compared with PBMC. Respectively, CCL4 and CCL20 recruited CD8(+) and regulatory T cells in vitro. Importantly, high levels of CCL4 in the lesions of ESCC patients predicted prolonged survival. Furthermore, CCL4(high)/CCL20(low) group demonstrated better overall survival, whereas CCL4(low)/CCL20(low) and CCL4(low)/CCL20(high) groups showed the worst overall survival.
Conclusions: Our data showed that CCL4 and CCL20 recruit functionally different T lymphocyte subsets into oesophageal carcinoma, indicating CCL4 and CCL20 are potential predictors of ESCC patients' survival.