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posted on 26.04.2022, 05:07 authored by Laura Brennan, Jurriaan Brouwer-Visser, Eveline Nüesch, Maria Karpova, Astrid Heller, Fabien Gaire, Meike Schneider, Bruno Gomes, Konstanty Korski
Background

In early stage clinical trials, changes to levels of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in the tumor microenvironment (TME) are critical biomarkers of the mechanism of action of novel immunotherapies. However, baseline heterogeneity of tumor samples, both between and within patients, and the resultant impact on the validity of clinical trial data is not well defined. Here we identify and quantify the impact of baseline variables on the heterogeneity of FoxP3+ and proliferating CD8+ T-cells levels (MKi67+CD8A+) in the TME both between and within patients for the purpose of informing clinical trial design and analysis.

Methods

We compared levels of FoxP3+ and MKi67+CD8+ cell densities (counts/mm2) from >1000 baseline tumor samples from clinical trials and commercially available sources. Using multivariate hierarchical regression techniques, we investigated whether inter-person heterogeneity of activated or regulatory T-cells could be attributed to baseline characteristics including demographics, indication, lesion type, tissue of excision, biopsy method, prior cancer treatment, and tissue type i.e., “fresh” or “archival” status. We also sought to characterize within-patient heterogeneity by lesion type and tissue type.

Results

Prior cancer treatment with hormone therapy or chemotherapy that induces immunogenic cell death may alter the TME. Archival tissue is an unreliable substitute for fresh tissue for determining baseline TIL levels. Baseline and on treatment biopsies should be matched by lesion type to avoid bias.

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