BC Cancer Foundation
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Terry Fox Research Institute
Cancer Research Society
Canada's Networks of Centres of Excellence
Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group
Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
ARTICLE ABSTRACTTumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) are strongly associated with survival in most cancers; however, the tumor-reactive subset that drives this prognostic effect remains poorly defined. CD39, CD103, and PD-1 have been independently proposed as markers of tumor-reactive CD8+ TIL in various cancers. We evaluated the phenotype, clonality, and prognostic significance of TIL expressing various combinations of these markers in high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSC), a malignancy in need of more effective immunotherapeutic approaches.
Expression of CD39, CD103, PD-1, and other immune markers was assessed by high-dimensional flow cytometry, single-cell sequencing, and multiplex immunofluorescence of primary and matched pre/post-chemotherapy HGSC specimens.
Coexpression of CD39, CD103, and PD-1 (“triple-positive” phenotype) demarcated subsets of CD8+ TIL and CD4+ regulatory T cells (Treg) with a highly activated/exhausted phenotype. Triple-positive CD8+ TIL exhibited reduced T-cell receptor (TCR) diversity and expressed genes involved in both cytolytic and humoral immunity. Triple-positive Tregs exhibited higher TCR diversity and a tumor-resident phenotype. Triple-positive TIL showed superior prognostic impact relative to TIL expressing other combinations of these markers. TIGIT was uniquely upregulated on triple-positive CD8+ effector cells relative to their CD4+ Treg counterparts.
Coexpression of CD39, CD103, and PD-1 demarcates highly activated CD8+ and CD4+ TIL with inferred roles in cytolytic, humoral, and regulatory immune functions. Triple-positive TIL demonstrate exceptional prognostic significance and express compelling targets for combination immunotherapy, including PD-1, CD39, and TIGIT.