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The Tumor Immune Landscape and Architecture of Tertiary Lymphoid Structures in Urothelial Cancer


Abstract

Candidate immune biomarkers have been proposed for predicting response to immunotherapy in urothelial cancer (UC). Yet, these biomarkers are imperfect and lack predictive power. A comprehensive overview of the tumor immune contexture, including Tertiary Lymphoid structures (TLS), is needed to better understand the immunotherapy response in UC. We analyzed tumor sections by quantitative multiplex immunofluorescence to characterize immune cell subsets in various tumor compartments in tumors without pretreatment and tumors exposed to preoperative anti-PD1/CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitors (NABUCCO trial). Pronounced immune cell presence was found in UC invasive margins compared to tumor and stroma regions. CD8+PD1+ T-cells were present in UC, particularly following immunotherapy. The cellular composition of TLS was assessed by multiplex immunofluorescence (CD3, CD8, FoxP3, CD68, CD20, PanCK, DAPI) to explore specific TLS clusters based on varying immune subset densities. Using a k-means clustering algorithm, we found five distinct cellular composition clusters. Tumors unresponsive to anti-PD-1/CTLA-4 immunotherapy showed enrichment of a FoxP3+ T-cell-low TLS cluster after treatment. Additionally, cluster 5 (macrophage low) TLS were significantly higher after pre-operative immunotherapy, compared to untreated tumors. We also compared the immune cell composition and maturation stages between superficial (submucosal) and deeper TLS, revealing that superficial TLS had more pronounced T-helper cells and enrichment of early TLS than TLS located in deeper tissue. Furthermore, superficial TLS displayed a lower fraction of secondary follicle like TLS than deeper TLS. Taken together, our results provide a detailed quantitative overview of the tumor immune landscape in UC, which can provide a basis for further studies.

Abstract

Candidate immune biomarkers have been proposed for predicting response to immunotherapy in urothelial cancer (UC). Yet, these biomarkers are imperfect and lack predictive power. A comprehensive overview of the tumor immune contexture, including Tertiary Lymphoid structures (TLS), is needed to better understand the immunotherapy response in UC. We analyzed tumor sections by quantitative multiplex immunofluorescence to characterize immune cell subsets in various tumor compartments in tumors without pretreatment and tumors exposed to preoperative anti-PD1/CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitors (NABUCCO trial). Pronounced immune cell presence was found in UC invasive margins compared to tumor and stroma regions. CD8+PD1+ T-cells were present in UC, particularly following immunotherapy. The cellular composition of TLS was assessed by multiplex immunofluorescence (CD3, CD8, FoxP3, CD68, CD20, PanCK, DAPI) to explore specific TLS clusters based on varying immune subset densities. Using a k-means clustering algorithm, we found five distinct cellular composition clusters. Tumors unresponsive to anti-PD-1/CTLA-4 immunotherapy showed enrichment of a FoxP3+ T-cell-low TLS cluster after treatment. Additionally, cluster 5 (macrophage low) TLS were significantly higher after pre-operative immunotherapy, compared to untreated tumors. We also compared the immune cell composition and maturation stages between superficial (submucosal) and deeper TLS, revealing that superficial TLS had more pronounced T-helper cells and enrichment of early TLS than TLS located in deeper tissue. Furthermore, superficial TLS displayed a lower fraction of secondary follicle like TLS than deeper TLS. Taken together, our results provide a detailed quantitative overview of the tumor immune landscape in UC, which can provide a basis for further studies.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Experimental Immunology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Immunology and Allergy
Life Sciences > Immunology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Immunology, Immunology and Allergy
Language:English
Date:20 December 2021
Deposited On:27 Jan 2022 14:17
Last Modified:21 Mar 2024 04:38
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-3224
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.793964
PubMed ID:34987518
Project Information:
  • : FunderBristol-Myers Squibb
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDCRSII5_177208
  • : Project TitleDefining the identity and differentiation pathways of the immune-stimulating fibroblastic tumor stroma
  • : FunderWorldwide cancer research
  • : Grant ID18-0629
  • : Project TitleTertiary lymphoid structures as novel tools for cancer immunotherapy
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)