Defects in T-cell function in patients with cancer might influence their capacity to mount efficient antitumor immune responses. Here, we identified highly reduced IL-4-, IL-10-, and IL-21-induced phosphorylation of STAT6 and STAT3 in tumor-infiltrating T cells (TILs) in follicular lymphoma (FL) tumors, contrasting other non-Hodgkin lymphoma TILs. By combining phospho-protein-specific flow cytometry with several T-cell markers, we identified that CD4(+)CD45RO(+)CD62L(-) FL TILs were largely nonresponsive to cytokines, in contrast to the corresponding autologous peripheral blood subset. We observed differential expression of the inhibitory receptor PD-1 in FL TILs and peripheral blood T cells. Furthermore, CD4(+)PD-1(hi) FL TILs, containing T(FH) and non-T(FH) cells, had lost their cytokine responsiveness, whereas PD-1 TILs had normal cytokine signaling. However, this phenomenon was not tumor specific, because tonsil T cells were similar to FL TILs. FL tumor cells were negative for PD-1 ligands, but PD-L1(+) histiocytes were found within the T cell-rich zone of the neoplastic follicles. Disruption of the microenvironment and in vitro culture of FL TILs could restore cytokine signaling in the PD-1(hi) subset. Because FL TILs in vivo probably receive suppressive signals through PD-1, this provides a rationale for testing PD-1 Ab in combination with immunotherapy in patients with FL.
View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2012-04-421826
View details for PubMedID 23297127
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3578953