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Clin Cancer Res. 2013 Feb 15;19(4):889-99. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-2191. Epub 2012 Dec 19.

The immune signature of CD8(+)CCR7(+) T cells in the peripheral circulation associates with disease recurrence in patients with HNSCC.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



Patients with cancer have an increased frequency of circulating apoptosis-sensitive CD8(+)CCR7(neg) T cells and few CD8(+)CCR7(+) T cells versus normal controls. The functional and clinical significance of this imbalance was investigated using peripheral blood of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC).


The frequency of circulating CD8(+) T cells co-expressing CCR7, CD45RO, CD28, and Annexin V (ANXV) was evaluated in 67 patients and 57 normal controls by flow cytometry. Spearman rank correlations among immunophenotypic profiles were analyzed. Recursive partitioning classified subjects as patients or normal controls based on CD8(+)CCR7(+) T-cell percentages. Kaplan-Meier plots estimated disease-free survival (DFS).


The CD8(+)CCR7(+) T-cell frequency was low, whereas that of total CD8(+)CCR7(neg) and ANXV-binding CD8(+)CCR7(neg) T cells was higher in patients with HNSCC than in normal controls (P < 0.001-0.0001). ANXV binding correlated with the absence of CCR7 on CD8(+) T cells (P < 0.001). ANXV binding was negatively correlated with the CD8(+)CD45RO(neg)CCR7(+) (T(N)) cell frequency (P < 0.01) but positively correlated (P < 0.01) with that of CD8(+)CD45RO(+)CCR7(+) (T(CM)) T cells and of the two CCR7(neg) subsets (T(PM) and T(TD)). In recursive partitioning models, the CD8(+)CCR7(+) T-cell frequency of 31% distinguished patients from normal controls with 77% to 88% accuracy after cross-validation. In 25 patients tested before any therapy, the CD8(+)CCR7(+) T-cell frequency of less than 28% predicted disease recurrence within 4 years of definitive therapy (P < 0.0115).


The CD8(+)CCR7(+) T-cell frequency in HNSCC patients' blood tested at diagnosis can discriminate them from normal controls and predicts disease recurrence.

©2012 AACR.

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