49P - CXCL13-producing follicular helper T cells in human breast cancer

Date 08 May 2014
Event IMPAKT 2014
Session Welcome reception and Poster Walk
Topics Breast Cancer
Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy
Presenter Chunyan Gu-Trantien
Citation Annals of Oncology (2014) 25 (suppl_1): i17-i18. 10.1093/annonc/mdu067
Authors C. Gu-Trantien1, E. Migliori1, L. Buisseret2, S. Garaud1, J. Lodewyckx1, H. Duvillier2, C. Naveaux1, D. Larsimont3, K. Willard-Gallo4
  • 1Molecular Immunology Unit, Institute Jules Bordet, 1000 - Brussels/BE
  • 2Molecular Immunology, Institut Jules Bordet, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 1000 - Brussels/BE
  • 3Anatomie Pathologique, Institute Jules Bordet, 1000 - Brussels/BE
  • 4Molecular Immunology, Institute Jules Bordet, 1000 - Brussels/BE



Our previous work detected PD-1hi CD200hi follicular helper T cells infiltrating breast tumors (BC Tfh TIL) and associated them with good clinical outcomes. Tfh TILs are the principal cellular source of CXCL13, a strong chemoattractant for CXCR5-expressing cells (B cells and some T cells including Tfh cells). CXCL13 was also the best single gene for survival prediction in HER2+ BC. The aim of this study is to fully characterize CXCL13-producing Tfh TILs and understand their anti-tumor functions.


Ten color flow cytometry was used to analyze human CD4+ TIL in fresh breast tumor specimens and compare Tfh cells with those from tonsils. A retrospective analysis of FFPE samples (N = 80) was assessed for CXCL13 and other Tfh marker gene expression by qPCR.


We found that PD-1, CD200 and TIGIT, but not CXCR5 (a hallmark surface receptor for tonsillar Tfh cells) are the most specific surface markers for CXCL13-secreting CD4+ TIL. However, some CXCR5hi CXCL13+ cells are also detected in rare tumors with exceptionally high infiltrates. Interestingly, PD-1hi CD200hi (principally CXCR5neg) TIL abundance is directly proportional to the number of germinal center (GC) B cells, suggesting they play a functional role in B cell maturation. Additionally, PD-1 in association with ICOS revealed three distinct subpopulations in CD4+ TIL. CXCL13-producing cells are enriched in the PD-1hiICOSmed group, FoxP3+ cells (activated and regulatory T cells) are principally in the PD-1medICOShi population, while the PD-1loICOSlo are unactivated cells. qPCR data confirmed CXCL13's value for predicting survival with PDCD1 (PD-1), TIGIT and ICOS also showing predictive potential. Re-examination of our gene expression data found that interferon g (IFNG) mRNA is inversely correlated with surface CXCR5 in cells exposed to tumor supernatant, suggesting a relationship between CXCR5 downregulation and the immunosuppressive potential of the tumor microenvironment.


Using novel combinations of surface markers we have identified distinct subpopulations of CD4+ TILs, which although phenotypically different from their tonsillar counterparts may also promote local B cell maturation thereby contributing to the clinical benefit associated with CXCL13 gene expression.


All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.