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The prognosis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains poor and heterogeneous and new biomarkers are needed. As the immune system plays a pivotal role in cancer, the study of immune-related markers may provide valuable prognostic information of NSCLC. In 122 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor tissue samples from early-stage NSCLC, tumor and tumor-near stromal areas were microdissected and gene expression levels of conventional and regulatory T cell markers were assessed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Also, the presence of infiltrating CD4+, CD8+, and FOXP3+ cells in tumor samples was assessed by immunohistochemistry. The relative proportion of conventional and regulatory T cells present in the tumor environment was assessed and found to be key to understand the importance that the immune system analysis has in the prognostics of NSCLC patients. The presence of CD8+ cells in the tumor compartment was associated with better outcome, whereas the presence of FOXP3+ cells was associated with worse overall survival. The negative prognostic value of combined biomarkers, indicating high levels of FOXP3 in the stroma and low levels of CD4 or CD8 in tumors, was observed at mRNA level and was validated by immunohistochemistry.In conclusion, the proportion of T helper and cytotoxic cells vs. regulatory T cells in different locations of the tumor microenvironment have opposite prognostic impacts in resected NSCLC.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





52849 - 52861


Department of Medicine, Universitat de València, Valencia, Spain.


T-Lymphocyte Subsets, T-Lymphocytes, Humans, Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung, Lung Neoplasms, Prognosis, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Middle Aged, Female, Male, Forkhead Transcription Factors, Kaplan-Meier Estimate, Tumor Microenvironment, Biomarkers, Tumor, CD4 Antigens, CD8 Antigens