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      Single-cell profiling of breast cancer T cells reveals a tissue-resident memory subset associated with improved prognosis

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          Abstract

          The quantity of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in breast cancer (BC) is a robust prognostic factor for improved patient survival, particularly in triple-negative and HER2-overexpressing BC subtypes1. Although T cells are the predominant TIL population2, the relationship between quantitative and qualitative differences in T cell subpopulations and patient prognosis remains unknown. We performed single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) of 6,311 T cells isolated from human BCs and show that significant heterogeneity exists in the infiltrating T cell population. We demonstrate that BCs with a high number of TILs contained CD8+ T cells with features of tissue-resident memory T (TRM) cell differentiation and that these CD8+ TRM cells expressed high levels of immune checkpoint molecules and effector proteins. A CD8+ TRM gene signature developed from the scRNA-seq data was significantly associated with improved patient survival in early-stage triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and provided better prognostication than CD8 expression alone. Our data suggest that CD8+ TRM cells contribute to BC immunosurveillance and are the key targets of modulation by immune checkpoint inhibition. Further understanding of the development, maintenance and regulation of TRM cells will be crucial for successful immunotherapeutic development in BC.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Tumor-associated lymphocytes as an independent predictor of response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer.

          PURPOSE Preclinical data suggest a contribution of the immune system to chemotherapy response. In this study, we investigated the prespecified hypothesis that the presence of a lymphocytic infiltrate in cancer tissue predicts the response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. METHODS We investigated intratumoral and stromal lymphocytes in a total of 1,058 pretherapeutic breast cancer core biopsies from two neoadjuvant anthracycline/taxane-based studies (GeparDuo, n = 218, training cohort; and GeparTrio, n = 840, validation cohort). Molecular parameters of lymphocyte recruitment and activation were evaluated by kinetic polymerase chain reaction in 134 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor samples. Results In a multivariate regression analysis including all known predictive clinicopathologic factors, the percentage of intratumoral lymphocytes was a significant independent parameter for pathologic complete response (pCR) in both cohorts (training cohort: P = .012; validation cohort: P = .001). Lymphocyte-predominant breast cancer responded, with pCR rates of 42% (training cohort) and 40% (validation cohort). In contrast, those tumors without any infiltrating lymphocytes had pCR rates of 3% (training cohort) and 7% (validation cohort). The expression of inflammatory marker genes and proteins was linked to the histopathologic infiltrate, and logistic regression showed a significant association of the T-cell-related markers CD3D and CXCL9 with pCR. CONCLUSION The presence of tumor-associated lymphocytes in breast cancer is a new independent predictor of response to anthracycline/taxane neoadjuvant chemotherapy and provides useful information for oncologists to identify a subgroup of patients with a high benefit from this type of chemotherapy.
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            Biological processes associated with breast cancer clinical outcome depend on the molecular subtypes.

            Recently, several prognostic gene expression signatures have been identified; however, their performance has never been evaluated according to the previously described molecular subtypes based on the estrogen receptor (ER) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), and their biological meaning has remained unclear. Here we aimed to perform a comprehensive meta-analysis integrating both clinicopathologic and gene expression data, focusing on the main molecular subtypes. We developed gene expression modules related to key biological processes in breast cancer such as tumor invasion, immune response, angiogenesis, apoptosis, proliferation, and ER and HER2 signaling, and then analyzed these modules together with clinical variables and several prognostic signatures on publicly available microarray studies (>2,100 patients). Multivariate analysis showed that in the ER+/HER2- subgroup, only the proliferation module and the histologic grade were significantly associated with clinical outcome. In the ER-/HER2- subgroup, only the immune response module was associated with prognosis, whereas in the HER2+ tumors, the tumor invasion and immune response modules displayed significant association with survival. Proliferation was identified as the most important component of several prognostic signatures, and their performance was limited to the ER+/HER2- subgroup. Although proliferation is the strongest parameter predicting clinical outcome in the ER+/HER2- subtype and the common denominator of most prognostic gene signatures, immune response and tumor invasion seem to be the main molecular processes associated with prognosis in the ER-/HER2- and HER2+ subgroups, respectively. These findings may help to define new clinicogenomic models and to identify new therapeutic strategies in the specific molecular subgroups.
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              Association between CD8+ T-cell infiltration and breast cancer survival in 12,439 patients.

              T-cell infiltration in estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast tumours has been associated with longer survival. To investigate this association and the potential of tumour T-cell infiltration as a prognostic and predictive marker, we have conducted the largest study of T cells in breast cancer to date.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Medicine
                Nat Med
                Springer Nature
                1078-8956
                1546-170X
                June 25 2018
                Article
                10.1038/s41591-018-0078-7
                29942092
                © 2018

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