Despite being a standard treatment option in breast cancer, immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) are only efficacious for a subset of patients. To gain a better understanding of the antitumor immune response in breast cancer, we examined the heterogeneity of CD8+ T cells in tumors, metastatic lymph nodes (mLNs), and peripheral blood from patients with early breast cancer (n = 131). Among tissue-resident memory CD8+ T (TRM) cells, including virus- and tumor-specific CD8+ T cells, CD39 expression was observed in a tumor-specific and exhausted subpopulation in both tumors and mLNs. CD39+ TRM cells from tumors and mLNs exhibited a phenotypic similarity and clonally overlapped with each other. Moreover, tumor or mLN CD39+ TRM cells clonally overlapped with CD39- TRM and non-TRM cells in the same compartment, implying a tissue-specific differentiation process. These inter-subpopulationally overlapping CD39+ TRM clonotypes were frequently detected among effector memory CD8+ T cells in peripheral blood, suggesting a systemic clonal overlap. CD39+ TRM cell enrichment was heterogeneous among molecular subtypes of breast cancer, which is associated with the different role of antitumor immune responses in each subtype. In vitro blockade of PD-1 and/or CTLA-4 effectively restored proliferation of CD39+ TRM cells and enhanced cytokine production by CD8+ T cells from tumors or mLNs, particularly in the presence of CD39+ TRM enrichment. This suggests that CD39+ TRM cells have a capacity for functional restoration upon ICI treatment. Thus, our study indicates that CD39+ TRM cells with a clonal overlap across compartments are key players in antitumor immunity in breast cancer.
|Publication status||Published - 2022 Aug 26|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy