Phenotypic and Functional Analysis of Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes Compared with Tumor-Associated Lymphocytes from Ascitic Fluid and Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes in Patients with Advanced Ovarian CancerSantin A.D.a,d · Hermonat P.L.a · Ravaggi A.a,d · Bellone S.a,d · Roman J.J.a · Smith C.V.a · Pecorelli S.d · Radominska-Pandya A.b · Cannon M.J.c · Parham G.P.a
aDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Departments of bBiochemistry and cMicrobiology and Immunology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Ark., USA; dDivision of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy
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To investigate and compare the phenotype and function of lymphocytes collected from patients harboring advanced ovarian cancer, leukocytes from peripheral blood (n = 18), ascitic fluid (n = 13) and tumor tissues (n = 13) were evaluated for the relative proportions of lymphocyte subsets, including CD3+, CD4+, CD8+, CD19+, CD56 and the early (CD25) and late (HLA-DR) activation markers on CD3+ T cells. The ability to synthesize type 1 cytokines (IFN-γ and IL-2) and a type 2 cytokine (IL-4) was assessed by flow cytometry. In all patients, T cells (CD3+) were the major leukocyte population detected in each tissue, with CD4+ T cells being dominant in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) and tumor-associated lymphocytes (TAL) but not in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) (CD4:CD8 ratios: 3.0 vs. 2.0 vs. 1.0, respectively). CD19+ lymphocytes (B cells) and CD56+ lymphocytes (NK cells) were significantly higher in PBL compared to TAL and TIL (p < 0.05). TAL and TIL had a higher proportion of T cells expressing the late activation marker HLA-DR compared to PBL. In contrast, no significant differences were detected in PBL, TAL and TIL in the expression of the early activation marker CD25. Type 1 cytokines were the dominant type produced by in vitro stimulated T cells for each population, with a greater proportion of IFN-γ+ T cells in TAL and TIL compared to PBL (p < 0.01), and a higher proportion of IL-2+ T cells in PBL compared with TAL and TIL (p < 0.05). Low percentages of IL-4+ T cells (i.e. Th2) were detected in each tissue. Taken together, these data demonstrate the recruitment and accumulation of high concentrations of antigen-experienced T lymphocytes in TAL and TIL compared to PBL. However, low surface expression of IL-2 receptor (i.e. CD25), as well as depressed intracellular IL-2 production in chronically stimulated TAL and TIL suggests that the impaired antitumor function commonly detected in these lymphocyte populations may be secondary to an acquired dysregulation of the IL-2 pathway.
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