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Prognostic value of immune cell infiltration, tertiary lymphoid structures and PD-L1 expression in Merkel cell carcinomas

Prognostic value of immune cell infiltration, tertiary lymphoid structures and PD-L1 expression in Merkel cell carcinomas

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology 7(11): 7610-7621

Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive, virus-associated, neuroendocrine tumor of the skin mainly affecting immunocompromised patients. Higher intratumoral infiltration with CD3 and CD8 positive T-cells is associated with a better prognosis, highlighting the relevance of the immune system for MCC development and progression. In this study 21 primary MCCs were stained with immune cell markers including CD3, CD4, CD8, CD68, CD20, and S100. Furthermore, tumor-infiltrating neutrophils, tertiary lymphoid structures and PD-L1 expression were analyzed and correlated with overall and recurrence free survival. All MCCs were Merkel Cell Polyomavirus positive. Overall and recurrence-free survival did not correlate with intra- and peritumoral CD3 and CD8 T-cell infiltration. In addition, no significant association regarding prognosis was found for tumor-associated neutrophils, tumor-associated macrophages or PD-L1 positivity in MCCs. Interestingly, the presence of tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS) in the tumor microenvironment significantly correlated with recurrence-free survival (P=0.025). In addition, TLS were significantly associated with a higher CD8/CD4 ratio in the tumor periphery (P=0.032), but not in the center of the tumor (P > 0.999). These results demonstrate for the first time that TLS, easily assessed in paraffin-embedded tissue in the tumor periphery of MCCs, may be a valuable prognostic factor indicating prolonged recurrence free survival.

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Accession: 058637800

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PMID: 25550797

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