Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and programmed cell death 1 ligand 1 (PD-L1) are established prognostic and predictive biomarkers for certain breast cancer subsets. However, their association with the immune response complexity is not fully understood. Therefore, we analyzed the association between the immune cell fractions in breast cancer tissues and histologically assessed TIL (hTIL) and PD-L1 (hPD-L1). Forty-five tumor and eighteen blood samples were collected from patients with breast cancer. Total leukocyte counts, frequency of 11 immune cell populations, and PD-L1 expression in each cell fraction were evaluated by flow cytometry. TILs and PD-L1 were assessed by hematoxylin and eosin staining and immunohistochemistry, respectively. A higher hTIL score showed association with increased leukocyte infiltration, higher CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proportions, and lower natural killer and natural killer T cell proportions. PD-L1 was highly expressed in nonclassical monocytes, monocyte/macrophages, myeloid-derived suppressor cells, myeloid dendritic cells, dendritic cells, and other lineages in tumors. hPD-L1 positivity reflected PD-L1 expression accurately in these fractions, as well as increased leukocyte infiltration in tumors. These results indicate that hTILs reflect differences in the immune responses in the tumor microenvironment, and certain immune cell fractions are favorably expressed in the PD-L1 pathway in breast cancer microenvironments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas