An immunophenotyping analysis was performed in peripheral blood samples from seven patients with lung cancer unfit for surgery treated with stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). The objective was to characterize the effect of SBRT on the host immune system. Four patients received 60 Gy (7.5 Gy × 8) and three 50 Gy (12.5 Gy × 4). Analyses were performed before SBRT, 72 h after SBRT, and at one, three, and six months after the end of SBRT. Of note, there was a specific increase of the immunoactive component of the immune system, with elevation of CD56+highCD16+ natural killer (NK) cells (0.95% at baseline to 1.38% at six months), and a decrease of the immunosuppressive component of the immune system, with decreases of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+CDA5RA- regulatory T cells (4.97% at baseline to 4.46% at six months), granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells (G-MDSCs) (from 66.1% at baseline to 62.6% at six months) and monocytic (Mo-MDSCs) (8.2% at baseline to 6.2% at six months). These changes were already apparent at 72 h and persisted over six months. SBRT showed an effect on systemic immune cell populations, which is a relevant finding for supporting future combinations of SBRT with immunotherapy for treating lung cancer patients.
Keywords: T helper lymphocytes; cytotoxic T lymphocytes; flow cytometry; immune system; immunomodulation; immunophenotyping; myeloid-derived suppressor cells; natural killer (NK) cells; non-small cell lung cancer; regulatory T cells; stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT).