BACKGROUND: The microenvironment of astrocytomas includes infiltrative inflammatory cells that are dynamic in nature, possibly reflecting tumor biology. We evaluated the inflammatory cell infiltrate in astrocytic tumors aiming for a better understanding of their immunobiology.
METHODS: Immunohistochemical expression of CD68, CD3, and CD20 was investigated in 21 glioblastomas, 21 anaplastic astrocytomas, 13 diffuse astrocytomas, and 18 pilocytic astrocytomas. The inflammatory infiltrate was classified based on microanatomic location as perivascular and intratumoral, and subsequently graded semiquantitatively.
RESULTS: Perivascularly, CD68-positive infiltrate was noted in 71.4% of glioblastomas compared with 14.3% of anaplastic astrocytomas (P = 0.0001), 7.7% of diffuse astrocytomas (P = 0.0001), and 33.3% of pilocytic astrocytomas (P = 0.017). Intratumorally, 85.7% of glioblastomas exhibited CD68-positive infiltrate compared with 42.9% of anaplastic astrocytomas (P = 0.004), 38.5% of diffuse astrocytomas (P = 0.008), and 33.3% of pilocytic astrocytomas (P = 0.001). Among diffusely infiltrating astrocytomas, intratumoral CD3-positive infiltrate was only associated with glioblastoma. A CD20-positive infiltrate was only detected in the perivascular space of a single case of diffuse astrocytoma.
CONCLUSION: These data indicate a distinct immune profile in the glioblastoma microenvironment primarily related to the prevalence of macrophages. Thus, novel glioblastoma therapies should address this key CD68-positive population and its possible role in generating an antitumor immune response.
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