Tertiary lymphoid structures in cancer - considerations for patient prognosis

Cell Mol Immunol. 2020 Jun;17(6):570-575. doi: 10.1038/s41423-020-0457-0. Epub 2020 May 15.


Tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS) are ectopic lymphoid formations that form within nonlymphoid tissue. They share structural and functional characteristics with secondary lymphoid structures such as lymph nodes and can contain B-cell follicles and germinal centers surrounded by a T-cell region. TLS have been described in several types of cancers and are usually associated with positive patient outcomes. However, TLS differ vastly in cellular composition and location within tissue types. In this review, we discuss factors confounding the interpretation of the evidence for a prognostic role for TLS in cancer and frame these factors in the context of translation to regular clinical use.

Keywords: cancer; prognosis; tertiary lymphoid structure; tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Prognosis
  • Tertiary Lymphoid Structures / immunology*
  • Treatment Outcome