T-cell activation marker expression on tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes as prognostic factor in cutaneous malignant melanoma

Andrea Ladányi, Beáta Somlai, Katalin Gilde, Zsuzsanna Fejös, István Gaudi, József Tímár
Clinical Cancer Research 2004 January 15, 10 (2): 521-30
The central role of T cells in antitumor immunity is well established. However, tumor progression, often seen in the presence of substantial lymphocytic infiltration, suggests that these T cells are not capable of mounting an effective immune response to control tumor growth. Evidence has accumulated that T lymphocytes infiltrating human neoplasms are functionally defective, incompletely activated, or anergic. Therefore, when characterizing the immune competent cells within lymphoid infiltrates of tumors, it is important to assess their activation state. We investigated the expression of two T-cell activation markers, interleukin 2 receptor alpha (CD25) and OX40 (CD134), by immunohistochemistry in primary cutaneous melanoma samples of 76 patients and analyzed it in relation to tumor stage and tumor progression (>5 years follow-up), as well as to patients' survival. We found that the degree of infiltration by CD25(+) and intratumoral OX40(+) lymphocytes showed a tendency to decrease in thicker melanomas. The frequency of samples with high numbers of peritumoral CD25(+) and OX40(+) cells was significantly lower (P = 0.0009 and P = 0.0087, respectively) in melanomas developing distant visceral metastases, compared with nonmetastatic or lymph node metastatic tumors. For both activation markers studied, high peritumoral densities were associated with longer survival by univariate analysis (P = 0.0028 and P = 0.0255 for CD25 and OX40, respectively), whereas peritumoral OX40(+) lymphocyte infiltration had an impact on survival also in multivariate analysis (P = 0.035). The results suggest that the presence of lymphocytes expressing the T-cell activation markers CD25 or OX40 shows correlation with tumor progression as well as with patients' survival in cutaneous malignant melanoma.

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