Tumor-infiltrating γδ T lymphocytes predict clinical outcome in human breast cancer

Chunling Ma, Qunyuan Zhang, Jian Ye, Fang Wang, Yanping Zhang, Eric Wevers, Theresa Schwartz, Pamela Hunborg, Mark A. Varvares, Daniel F. Hoft, Eddy C. Hsueh, Guangyong Peng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding and dissecting the role of different subsets of regulatory tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in the immunopathogenesis of individual cancer is a challenge for anti-tumor immunotherapy. High levels of γδ regulatory T cells have been discovered in breast TILs. However, the clinical relevance of these intratumoral γδ T cells is unknown. In this study, γδ T cell populations were analyzed by performing immunohistochemical staining in primary breast cancer tissues from patients with different stages of cancer progression. Retrospective multivariate analyses of the correlations between γδ T cell levels and other prognostic factors and clinical outcomes were completed. We found that γδ T cell infiltration and accumulation in breast tumor sites was a general feature in breast cancer patients. Intratumoral γδ T cell numbers were positively correlated with advanced tumor stages, HER2 expression status, and high lymph node metastasis but inversely correlated with relapse-free survival and overall survival of breast cancer patients. Multivariate and univariate analyses of tumor-infiltrating γδ T cells and other prognostic factors further suggested that intratumoral γδ T cells represented the most significant independent prognostic factor for assessing severity of breast cancer compared with the other known factors. Intratumoral γδ T cells were positively correlated with FOXP3+ cells and CD4 + T cells but negatively correlated with CD8+ T cells in breast cancer tissues. These findings suggest that intratumoral γδ T cells may serve as a valuable and independent prognostic biomarker, as well as a potential therapeutic target for human breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5029-5036
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 15 2012


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