The following summary is “CD8+ Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocyte Abundance Is a Positive Prognostic Indicator in Nasopharyngeal Cancer” published in the December 2022 issue of Oncology by Shi et al.

The antigen-specific host immune response depends on tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL), immune cell populations that can be identified within tumors. The purpose of this research was to better understand the role of CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ TILs in nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC). Using RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) data derived from altered T-cell receptor (TCR) reads and the Estimation of Stromal and Immune cells in malignant tumors using expression data (ESTIMATE) immune score tool, researcher  determined the extent to which immune cells infiltrated NPC samples (n=50). 

In addition to RNA-seq (n=50), IHC labeling of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples from a training cohort (n=35) was used to define the differential abundances of TIL subset populations. Overall survival (OS; P<0.001) and disease-free survival (DFS; P<0.001) were better at 5 and 10 years for patients with more rearranged TCR readings in the RNA-seq population. 5- and 10-year overall survival (OS) were also better for patients with higher ESTIMATE immunological ratings (P=0.024 and P=0.007, respectively).  It was found that in the training cohort, higher CD8+ TIL abundance was related to better OS at 5 and 10 years (P=0.003) and DFS at 5 years (P=0.005). 

Improved 5 and 10 year survival was also observed in terms of locoregional control (P<0.001) and distant metastasis (P=0.03) in a separate validation cohort (n=84), and in a combined analysis of the training and validation cohorts (n=119 (35+84)). Overall, our results emphasize the promise of future studies into cellular-based immunotherapies utilizing CD8+ lymphocytes and the prognostic relevance of CD8+ TILs in NPC.