Open Access

Prognostic value of the density of tumor‑infiltrating lymphocytes in colorectal cancer liver metastases

  • Authors:
    • En Wang
    • Masatsune Shibutani
    • Hisashi Nagahara
    • Tatsunari Fukuoka
    • Yasuhito Iseki
    • Yuki Okazaki
    • Shinichiro Kashiwagi
    • Hiroaki Tanaka
    • Kiyoshi Maeda
  • View Affiliations

  • Published online on: October 18, 2021     https://doi.org/10.3892/ol.2021.13098
  • Article Number: 837
  • Copyright: © Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution License.

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Abstract

Tumor‑infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) have been reported to reflect the anti‑tumor immune status of patients and to be correlated with their prognosis and therapeutic outcomes. However, the characteristics of the local immune status in metastatic tumors is poorly understood, as primary tumors have been the focus in most previous studies. In addition, the local immune status may be influenced by preoperative chemotherapy. The present study aimed therefore to investigate the relationship between the degree of TIL infiltration and the prognosis in patients with curative resection of colorectal cancer liver metastases and to examine the effects of preoperative chemotherapy on the function of immune cells. A total of 108 patients who underwent curative resection of colorectal cancer liver metastases in our department between May 1996 and January 2017 were enrolled in the present study. Peripheral blood samples were obtained within two weeks before surgery. TIL infiltration was evaluated by immunohistochemical staining of surgically resected specimens of liver metastases using anti‑CD8/CD3 antibodies. The mean number of TILs in five different fields was calculated, and patients were classified into a high‑TIL group and a low‑TIL group. Furthermore, patients were divided into three groups as follows: i) A group of patients who did not receive preoperative chemotherapy; ii) a group of patients who received short‑term preoperative chemotherapy for <6 months; and iii) a group of patients who received long‑term preoperative chemotherapy for ≥6 months. The results demonstrated that the density of TILs in colorectal liver metastases was not correlated with the absolute peripheral lymphocyte count in all patients. Furthermore, the degree of CD8+TIL infiltration in liver metastases was significantly lower in the recurrence group compared with the recurrence‑free group following hepatectomy. In all patients with colorectal liver metastases, the degree of CD8+TIL infiltration was significantly associated with the relapse‑free and overall survival. In patients without preoperative chemotherapy, the degree of CD8+TIL infiltration was significantly associated with the relapse‑free survival, and a high CD8+TIL presence tended to have a better effect on the overall survival than a low CD8+TIL presence. In the short‑term chemotherapy group, the degree of CD8+TIL infiltration was significantly associated with the relapse‑free and overall survival. In the long‑term chemotherapy group, there were no significant differences between the high‑ and low‑ CD8+TIL groups in the relapse‑free and overall survival. In contrast to CD8+TILs, CD3+TILs showed a poor prognostic ability. In summary, the degree of CD8+TIL infiltration in colorectal cancer liver metastases may be correlated with patient prognosis. However, in patients who received long‑term chemotherapy before surgery, the degree of TIL infiltration was not necessarily associated with prognosis as the anti‑tumor effects of TILs may decrease. The degree of CD8+TIL infiltration may therefore be considered as a useful prognostic factor in patients with colorectal liver metastases, but the prognostic accuracy may decrease in patients who received long‑term chemotherapy.
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