Phenotypic and functional analysis of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes compared with tumor-associated lymphocytes from ascitic fluid and peripheral blood lymphocytes in patients with advanced ovarian cancer

Alessandro D. Santin, P. L. Hermonat, A. Ravaggi, S. Bellone, J. J. Roman, C. V. Smith, S. Pecorelli, A. Radominska-Pandya, M. J. Cannon, G. P. Parham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

69 Scopus citations


To investigate and compare the phenotype and function of lymphocytes collected from patients harboring advanced ovarian cancer, leukocytes from peripheral blood (n = 18), ascitic fluid (n = 13) and tumor tissues (n = 13) were evaluated for the relative proportions of lymphocyte subsets, including CD3+, CD4+, CD8+, CD19+, CD56 and the early (CD25) and late (HLA-DR) activation markers on CD3+ T cells. The ability to synthesize type 1 cytokines (IFN-γ and IL-2) and a type 2 cytokine (IL-4) was assessed by flow cytometry. In all patients, T cells (CD3+) were the major leukocyte population detected in each tissue, with CD4+ T cells being dominant in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) and tumor-associated lymphocytes (TAL) but not in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) (CD4:CD8 ratios: 3.0 vs. 2.0 vs. 1.0, respectively). CD19+ lymphocytes (B cells) and CD56+ lymphocytes (NK cells) were significantly higher in PBL compared to TAL and TIL (p < 0.05). TAL and TIL had a higher proportion of T cells expressing the late activation marker HLA-DR compared to PBL. In contrast, no significant differences were detected in PBL, TAL and TIL in the expression of the early activation marker CD25. Type 1 cytokines were the dominant type produced by in vitro stimulated T cells for each population, with a greater proportion of IFN-γ+ T cells in TAL and TIL compared to PBL (p < 0.01), and a higher proportion of IL-2+ T cells in PBL compared with TAL and TIL (p < 0.05). Low percentages of IL-4+ T cells (i.e. Th2) were detected in each tissue. Taken together, these data demonstrate the recruitment and accumulation of high concentrations of antigen-experienced T lymphocytes in TAL and TIL compared to PBL. However, low surface expression of IL-2 receptor (i.e. CD25), as well as depressed intracellular IL-2 production in chronically stimulated TAL and TIL suggests that the impaired antitumor function commonly detected in these lymphocyte populations may be secondary to an acquired dysregulation of the IL-2 pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-261
Number of pages8
JournalGynecologic and Obstetric Investigation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 18 2001



  • IFN-γ
  • IL-10
  • IL-2
  • IL-4
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Tumor-associated lymphocytes
  • Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

Cite this