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Pathol Res Pract. 1998;194(10):679-84.

Evaluation of HLA-DR expression and T-lymphocyte infiltration in osteosarcoma.

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Department of Orthopaedics, University Hospital Vienna, Austria.


Although in recent years the outcome of patients with osteosarcoma has considerably been improved by combining neoadjuvant chemotherapy with radical surgery, there still remains the problem of nonresponse to chemotherapy. T-lymphocytes play a critical role in tumor immunology, and MHC molecules are of central importance in the regulation of the immune response. It is the aim of this study to investigate whether T-lymphocyte infiltration of osteosarcomas and HLA-DR expression on tumor cells and infiltrating immune cells are of predictive or diagnostic value. Expression of CD3, CD8 and HLA-II was evaluated immunohistochemically on paraffin-embedded sections of 35 patients with high-grade osteosarcoma at the time of biopsy before chemotherapy and correlated with histologic response to chemotherapy, tumor size, age, alkaline-phosphatase serum levels and duration of symptoms. Thirty-four patients with osteoblastoma (n = 7), osteoid osteoma (n = 7) or fibrous dysplasia (n = 20) served as controls. Osteosarcomas were infiltrated by CD3+ (33/35, 95%) and CD8+ T-lymphocytes (24/35, 68%), non malignant bone tumors by CD3+ in 91% (31/34) and CD8+ T-lymphocytes in 74% (25/34), respectively. T-lymphocytes were positive for HLA-DR expression in 29% (10/35) in osteosarcomas and in 11% (4/34) in non-malignant controls. Osteosarcoma cells were positive for HLA-DR in 11/35 (31%) and non-malignant tumor cells in only 9% (3/34). Therefore, HLA-DR is overexpressed in osteosarcoma (p < 0.05). HLA-DR expression on osteosarcoma cells showed a positive correlation with HLA-DR expression on lymphocytes (p < 0.001) as well as with duration of symptoms and age (p < 0.05). Response to preoperative chemotherapy, gender, tumor size and serum alkaline-phosphatase levels did not correlate with the expression of the molecules tested. Our results show that HLA-DR is overexpressed in osteosarcoma cells compared to non-malignant bone-tumors. This overexpression, however, fails to serve as a predictive marker for response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The same is also true for tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes expressing CD3, CD8 and HLA-DR. Increased HLA-DR expression in osteosarcoma is most likely due to the immune response against the tumor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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