Although pediatric malignant extracranial germ-cell tumors (meGCTs) are among the most chemosensitive solid tumors, a group of patients relapse and die of disease. To identify new markers predicting clinical outcome, we examined the prognostic relevance of tumor-infiltrating T lymphocytes (TILs) and the expression of PD-1 and PD-L1 in a cohort of pediatric meGCTs by in situ immunohistochemistry. MeGCTs were variously infiltrated by T cell-subtypes according to the tumor subtype, tumor location and age at diagnosis. We distinguished three different phenotypes: i) tumors not infiltrated by T cells (immature teratomas and half of the yolk sac tumors), ii) tumors highly infiltrated by CD8 + T cells expressing PD-1, which identifies activated tumor-reactive T cells (seminomas and dysgerminomas), iii) tumors highly infiltrated by CD8 + T cells within an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment characterized by CD4 +FOXP3 + Treg cells and PD-L1-expressing tumor cells (embryonal carcinomas, choriocarcinomas and the remaining yolk sac tumors). Tumor subtypes belonging mixed meGCTs were variously infiltrated, suggesting the coexistence of multiple immune microenvironments either facilitating or precluding the entry of T cells.
These findings support the hypothesis that TILs influence the development of meGCTs and might be of clinical relevance to improve risk stratification and the treatment of pediatric patients.