CD103+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes are tumor-reactive intraepithelial CD8+ T cells associated with prognostic benefit and therapy response in cervical cancer.
Komdeur FL., Prins TM., van de Wall S., Plat A., Wisman GBA., Hollema H., Daemen T., Church DN., de Bruyn M., Nijman HW.
Human papilloma virus (HPV)-induced cervical cancer constitutively expresses viral E6/E7 oncoproteins and is an excellent target for T cell-based immunotherapy. However, not all tumor-infiltrating T cells confer equal benefit to patients, with epithelial T cells being superior to stromal T cells. To assess whether the epithelial T cell biomarker CD103 could specifically discriminate the beneficial antitumor T cells, association of CD103 with clinicopathological variables and outcome was analyzed in the TCGA cervical cancer data set (n = 304) and by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in an independent cohort (n = 460). Localization of CD103+ cells in the tumor was assessed by immunofluorescence. Furthermore, use of CD103 as a response biomarker was assessed in an in vivo E6/E7+ tumor model. Our results show that CD103 gene expression was strongly correlated with cytotoxic T cell markers (e.g. CD8/GZMB/PD1) in the TCGA series. In line with this, CD103+ cells in the IHC series co-expressed CD8 and were preferentially located in cervical tumor epithelium. High CD103+ cell infiltration was strongly associated with an improved prognosis in both series, and appeared to be a better predictor of outcome than CD8. Interestingly, the prognostic benefit of CD103 in both series seemed limited to patients receiving radiotherapy. In a preclinical mouse model, HPV E6/E7-targeted therapeutic vaccination in combination with radiotherapy increased the intratumoral number of CD103+ CD8+ T cells, providing a potential mechanistic basis for our results. In conclusion, CD103 is a promising marker for rapid assessment of tumor-reactive T cell infiltration of cervical cancers and a promising response biomarker for E6/E7-targeted immunotherapy.