The prognostic values of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and TILs subsets in breast cancer (BC) are uncertain.
A systematic literature search (MEDLINE, Web of Science, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library to August 2014) was conducted for studies which met the eligibility criteria. The primary clinical outcome was defined as disease-free survival (DFS), overall survival (OS), and BC-specific survival (BCSS). Random or fixed-effects model was adopted to estimate the summary hazard ratio (HR).
Twenty-five published studies comprising 22,964 patients were reviewed. Pooled analysis indicated that TILs were not prognostic markers for DFS and OS in overall population, but related to improved DFS (HR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.76–0.88) and OS (HR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.71–0.87) in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients. For TILs subsets, CD8+ lymphocytes were associated with improved DFS (HR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.56–0.84) and BCSS (HR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.71–0.86) in overall population, while FOXP3+ lymphocytes were associated with reduced DFS (HR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.01–2.05) and OS (HR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.15–1.97). In estrogen receptor (ER) negative patients, CD8+ lymphocytes was also related to better BCSS. In addition, the high density of CD20+, CD3+ or low level of PD-1+ or γδ T lymphocytes indicated increased OS in limited studies.