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Nat Commun. 2017 Feb 1;8:14381. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14381.

Neutrophils dominate the immune cell composition in non-small cell lung cancer.

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Clinical Research Division, Seattle, Washington 98109, USA.
Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology, Medical University of Graz, Universitaetsplatz 4, Graz 8010, Austria.
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Washington, Campus Box 356522, Seattle, Washington 98195-6522, USA.
Public Health Sciences Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue N, Seattle, Washington 98109, USA.
Human Biology Division, Seattle, Washington 98109, USA.


The response rate to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is just 20%. To improve this figure, several early phase clinical trials combining novel immunotherapeutics with immune checkpoint blockade have been initiated. Unfortunately, these trials have been designed without a strong foundational knowledge of the immune landscape present in NSCLC. Here, we use a flow cytometry panel capable of measuring 51 immune cell populations to comprehensively identify the immune cell composition and function in NSCLC. The results show that the immune cell composition is fundamentally different in lung adenocarcinoma as compared with lung squamous cell carcinoma, and that neutrophils are the most prevalent immune cell type. Using T-cell receptor-β sequencing and tumour reactivity assays, we predict that tumour reactive T cells are frequently present in NSCLC. These results should help to guide the design of clinical trials and the direction of future research in this area.

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