High density and proximity of CD8+ T cells to tumor cells are correlated with better response to nivolumab treatment in metastatic pleural mesothelioma

Thoracic Cancer 2023 May 30 [Link]

Yuting Yin, Rie Sakakibara, Takayuki Honda, Susumu Kirimura, Pissacha Daroonpan, Masashi Kobayashi, Kohei Ando, Hideki Ujiie, Tatsuya Kato, Kichizo Kaga, Takahiro Mitsumura, Ryoji Nakano, Hiroyuki Sakashita, Shinichi Matsuge, Hironori Ishibashi, Takumi Akashi, Yasuhiro Hida, Takao Morohoshi, Miyuki Azuma, Kenichi Okubo, Yasunari Miyazaki


Background: The efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) in pleural mesothelioma has recently been established. The response to ICIs can be predicted by quantitative analysis of cells and their spatial distribution in the tumor microenvironment (TME). However, the detailed composition of the TME in pleural mesothelioma has not been reported. We evaluated the association between the TME and response to ICIs in this cancer.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of 22 pleural mesothelioma patients treated with nivolumab in different centers was performed using surgical specimens. Four patients had a partial response to nivolumab (response group) and 18 patients had stable or progressive disease (nonresponse group). The number of CD4, CD8, FoxP3, CK, and PD-L1 positive cells, cell density, and cell-to-cell distance were analyzed by multiplex immunofluorescence.

Results: PD-L1 expression did not differ significantly between the response and nonresponse groups. The density of total T cells and of CD8+ T cells was significantly higher in the response than in the nonresponse group. CD8+ T cells were more clustered and located closer to tumor cells, whereas regulatory T cells were located further from tumor cells in the response than in the nonresponse group.

Conclusions: High density and spatial proximity of CD8+ T cells to tumor cells were associated with better response to nivolumab, whereas the proximity of regulatory T cells to tumor cells was associated with worse response, suggesting that the distinct landscape of the TME could be a potential predictor of ICI efficacy in pleural mesothelioma.