The expression of the immune checkpoint regulator VISTA correlates with improved overall survival in pT1/2 tumor stages in esophageal adenocarcinoma

Oncoimmunology. 2019 Feb 27;8(5):e1581546. doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2019.1581546. eCollection 2019.


Immune checkpoint modulation in cancer has been demonstrated as a high-value therapeutic strategy in many tumor entities. VISTA is an immune checkpoint receptor regulating T-cell function. To the best of our knowledge, nothing is known about the expression and prognostic impact of VISTA on tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in the tumor microenvironment of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). We analyzed in total 393 EACs within a test-cohort (n = 165) and a validation-cohort (n = 228) using a monoclonal antibody (clone D1L2G). These data were statistically correlated with clinical as well as molecular data. 22.2% of the tumor cohort presented with a VISTA expression on TILs. These patients demonstrated an improved median overall survival compared to patients without VISTA expression (202.2 months vs. 21.6 months; p < 0.0001). The favorable outcome of VISTA positive tumors is significant in the entire cohort but mainly driven by the general better prognosis of T1/T2 tumors. However, in the pT1/2 group, VISTA positive tumors show a tremendous survival benefit compared to VISTA negative tumors revealing real long-term survivors in this particular subgroup. The survival difference is independent of the T-stage. This unique characteristic could influence neoadjuvant therapy concepts for EAC, since a profit of therapy could be reduced in the already favorable subgroup of VISTA positive tumors. VISTA emerges as a prognostic biomarker for long-term survival especially in the group of early TNM-stages. Future studies have to show the relevance of VISTA positive TILs within a tumor concerning response to specific immune checkpoint inhibition.

Keywords: Esophageal adenocarcinoma; TILs; VISTA; early tumor stages; prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Grant support

Max Kraemer is supported by the Koeln Fortune Program/Faculty of Medicine,Universität zu Köln, grant number [410/2018].