Immune Cell Infiltration and Tertiary Lymphoid Structures as Determinants of Antitumor Immunity

J Immunol. 2018 Jan 15;200(2):432-442. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1701269.


Limited representation of intratumoral immune cells is a major barrier to tumor control. However, simply enhancing immune responses in tumor-draining lymph nodes or through adoptive transfer may not overcome the limited ability of tumor vasculature to support effector infiltration. An alternative is to promote a sustained immune response intratumorally. This idea has gained traction with the observation that many tumors are associated with tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS), which organizationally resemble lymph nodes. These peri- and intratumoral structures are usually, but not always, associated with positive prognoses in patients. Preclinical and clinical data support a role for TLS in modulating immunity in the tumor microenvironment. However, there appear to be varied functions of TLS, potentially based on their structure or location in relation to the tumor or the origin or location of the tumor itself. Understanding more about TLS development, composition, and function may offer new therapeutic opportunities to modulate antitumor immunity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunity*
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / immunology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism
  • Prognosis
  • Tertiary Lymphoid Structures / immunology*
  • Tertiary Lymphoid Structures / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology*