Neutrophils dominate the immune cell composition in non-small cell lung cancer

Nat Commun. 2017 Feb 1;8:14381. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14381.


The response rate to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is just 20%. To improve this figure, several early phase clinical trials combining novel immunotherapeutics with immune checkpoint blockade have been initiated. Unfortunately, these trials have been designed without a strong foundational knowledge of the immune landscape present in NSCLC. Here, we use a flow cytometry panel capable of measuring 51 immune cell populations to comprehensively identify the immune cell composition and function in NSCLC. The results show that the immune cell composition is fundamentally different in lung adenocarcinoma as compared with lung squamous cell carcinoma, and that neutrophils are the most prevalent immune cell type. Using T-cell receptor-β sequencing and tumour reactivity assays, we predict that tumour reactive T cells are frequently present in NSCLC. These results should help to guide the design of clinical trials and the direction of future research in this area.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / immunology
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy
  • Cell Count
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Immune System / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology