Profound elevation of CD8+ T cells expressing the intraepithelial lymphocyte marker CD103 (alphaE/beta7 Integrin) in high-grade serous ovarian cancer

John R Webb, Darin A Wick, Julie S Nielsen, Eric Tran, Katy Milne, Elissa McMurtrie, Brad H Nelson
Gynecologic Oncology 2010, 118 (3): 228-36

INTRODUCTION: Tumor-infiltrating CD8(+) T cells are strongly associated with survival in high-grade serous ovarian cancer, but their functional phenotype remains poorly defined. The mucosal integrin CD103 (alpha(E)/beta(7)) facilitates the infiltration of T cells into epithelial tissues, including gut and lung mucosa, solid organ allografts, and various epithelial cancers. We reasoned that CD103 might also be expressed by tumor-reactive T cells in ovarian cancer.

METHODS: Flow cytometry was used to assess the frequency and phenotype of CD103-expressing T cells in primary ascites fluid from 13 patients with high-grade serous ovarian cancer and 2 patients with recurrent disease.

RESULTS: We report that a subset of patients with advanced serous ovarian cancer have profoundly elevated frequencies of CD103-expressing CD8(+) cells in ascites (between 20% and 70% of CD8(+) cells in ascites were CD103(+)) and that CD103 expression correlated with levels of TGF-beta in ascitic fluid. Conversely, CD103 was not expressed on CD4(+) cells, even in those patients with very high frequencies of CD8(+)CD103(+) cells. CD8(+)CD103(+) cells were antigen-experienced (CD45RA(-)CD45RO(+)CD62L(lo)CCR7(-)) and of an intermediate (EM2) effector memory phenotype (CD27(+)CD28(-)). TCR repertoire analysis indicated significant skewing between CD8(+)CD103(-) and CD8(+)CD103(+) T cell subsets, suggesting the two populations contain distinct antigenic specificities. Lastly, HLA pentamer analysis revealed that one patient in the cohort harbored a high frequency of CD8(+) T cells in ascites that were specific for the tumor antigen NY-ESO-1, and that approximately 75% of these NY-ESO-1 specific CD8(+) T cells were CD103(+).

CONCLUSIONS: CD103(+) may be a marker of activated and tumor-reactive CD8(+) T cells in high-grade serous ovarian cancer.

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