The CD4/CD8 ratio of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes at the tumor-host interface has prognostic value in triple-negative breast cancer

Academic Article


  • Compelling evidence has demonstrated the prognostic value of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), especially in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). However, only a limited number of studies to investigate the importance of the subsets of T cells in TILs have been carried out, less so the significance of the location of these TILs. In this study, we explored in a cohort of 42 consecutive TNBC cases the prognostic significance of TIL subsets at the tumor-host interface (within 1 high-power field [0.5 mm] of the invasive front) and compared them with TILs within the intratumoral stroma. Given the reported importance of TILs in HER2-overexpressing breast cancer, a subset of such tumors was also included for comparison. The range was wide in both locations; nevertheless, the mean CD4+ and CD8+ T cell count was significantly higher at the tumor-host interface than that found within the intratumoral stroma (both P <.0001). The number of CD4+ or CD8+ T cells at either location was not significantly associated with distant relapse-free or overall survival. However, the CD4/CD8 ratio at the tumor-host interface was significantly associated with both relapse-free survival (hazard ratio 0.2, P =.002) and overall survival (hazard ratio 0.13, P =.002), whereas this association was not seen for the CD4/CD8 ratio within the intratumoral stroma. As expected, both tumor size and nodal status were significantly associated with survival outcomes. The findings further support the contention that TILs, as markers of regional immune escape, are of prognostic importance in TNBC progression and that the CD4/CD8 ratio of TILs at the tumor-host interface plays a distinctive role, thus appearing to be of clinical relevance.
  • Published In

  • Human Pathology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wang K; Shen T; Siegal GP; Wei S
  • Start Page

  • 110
  • End Page

  • 117
  • Volume

  • 69