Spatial analysis of human lung cancer reveals organized immune hubs enriched for stem-like CD8 T cells and associated with immunotherapy response

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2023 Apr 6:2023.04.04.535379. doi: 10.1101/2023.04.04.535379.


The organization of immune cells in human tumors is not well understood. Immunogenic tumors harbor spatially-localized multicellular 'immunity hubs' defined by expression of the T cell-attracting chemokines CXCL10/CXCL11 and abundant T cells. Here, we examined immunity hubs in human pre-immunotherapy lung cancer specimens, and found that they were associated with beneficial responses to PD-1-blockade. Immunity hubs were enriched for many interferon-stimulated genes, T cells in multiple differentiation states, and CXCL9/10/11 + macrophages that preferentially interact with CD8 T cells. Critically, we discovered the stem-immunity hub, a subtype of immunity hub strongly associated with favorable PD-1-blockade outcomes, distinct from mature tertiary lymphoid structures, and enriched for stem-like TCF7+PD-1+ CD8 T cells and activated CCR7 + LAMP3 + dendritic cells, as well as chemokines that organize these cells. These results elucidate the spatial organization of the human intratumoral immune response and its relevance to patient immunotherapy outcomes.

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