Analysis of tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes reveals two new biologically different subgroups of breast ductal carcinoma in situ

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Abstract

Background: Tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) have been demonstrated to significantly influence prognosis and response to therapy of invasive breast cancer (IBC). Thus, it has been suggested that TIL density or/and immunophenotype could serve as biomarkers for selection of IBC patients for immunotherapy. However, much less is known about significance of TILs in breast ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Methods: We retrospectively investigated TIL density and immunophenotype in 96 pure DCIS and 35 microinvasive carcinomas (miCa). TIL density was assessed on H&E-stained breast biopsy sections as the percentage of tumour stromal area occupied by TILs, and classified into 4 grades: 0 (0%-9%), 1 (10-29%), 2 (30-49%) and 3 (50%-100%). TIL immunophenotype was assessed by immunohistochemistry for CD8, CD4, FoxP3, CD38 or CD20. Results: Compared to pure DCIS, miCa contained significantly more cases with TIL density grade 3 (p = 0.028). Concordantly, CD8+, CD4+ and CD38+ cells were more numerous in miCa than in pure DCIS. In the pure DCIS subgroup with TIL density grades 2 and 3, all TIL subpopulations were more numerous than in the pure DCIS with TIL density grades 0 and 1, however the ratio between T-lymphocytes (CD8+ and CD4+) and B-lymphocytes (CD20+) was significantly lower (p = 0.029). On the other side, this ratio was significantly higher in miCa, in comparison with pure DCIS having TIL density grades 2 and 3 (p = 0.017). By cluster analysis of tumour cell pathobiological features we demonstrated similarity between miCa and the pure DCIS with TIL density grades 2 and 3. The only significant difference between those two categories was in the ratio of T- to B-TILs, higher in miCa. Conclusion: Results indicate that TIL density level can distinguish 2 biologically different DCIS subgroups, one of which (DCIS with ≥30% TILs, the TIL-rich DCIS) is like miCa. Similarity of TIL-rich pure DCIS and miCa as well as the role of B-lymphocytes in DCIS invasiveness are worth further investigating with regards to the potential development of immunotherapy-based prevention of DCIS progression.

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Beguinot, M., Dauplat, M. M., Kwiatkowski, F., Lebouedec, G., Tixier, L., Pomel, C., … Radosevic-Robin, N. (2018). Analysis of tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes reveals two new biologically different subgroups of breast ductal carcinoma in situ. BMC Cancer, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12885-018-4013-6

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