Peripheral T-cell receptor repertoire dynamics in small cell lung cancer

Transl Lung Cancer Res. 2023 Feb 28;12(2):257-265. doi: 10.21037/tlcr-22-666. Epub 2023 Feb 21.


Background: Identifying a circulating biomarker predictive of immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) benefit in patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) remains an unmet need. Characteristics of peripheral and intratumoral T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoires have been shown to predict clinical outcomes in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Recognizing a knowledge gap, we sought to characterize circulating TCR repertoires and their relationship with clinical outcomes in SCLC.

Methods: SCLC patients with limited (n=4) and extensive (n=10) stage disease were prospectively enrolled for blood collection and chart review. Targeted next-generation sequencing of TCR beta and alpha chains of peripheral blood samples was performed. Unique TCR clonotypes were defined by identical CDR3, V gene, and J gene nucleotide sequences of the beta chain and subsequently used to calculate TCR diversity indices.

Results: Patients with stable versus progressive and limited versus extensive stage disease did not demonstrate significant differences in V gene usage. Kaplan-Meier curve and log-rank analysis did not identify a statistical difference in progression-free survival (PFS) (P=0.900) or overall survival (OS) (P=0.200) between high and low on-treatment TCR diversity groups, although the high diversity group exhibited a trend toward increased OS.

Conclusions: We report the second study investigating peripheral TCR repertoire diversity in SCLC. With a limited sample size, no statistically significant associations between peripheral TCR diversity and clinical outcomes were observed, though further study is warranted.

Keywords: T-cell receptor (TCR); T-cell receptor repertoire (TCR repertoire); biomarker; immunogenomics; small cell lung cancer (SCLC).