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01.12.2018 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Diagnostic Pathology 1/2018

Predictive value of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes to pathological complete response in neoadjuvant treated triple-negative breast cancers

Diagnostic Pathology > Ausgabe 1/2018
Miao Ruan, Tian Tian, Jia Rao, Xiaoli Xu, Baohua Yu, Wentao Yang, Ruohong Shui
Wichtige Hinweise
Miao Ruan and Tian Tian contributed equally to this work.



Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are a group of heterogeneous diseases with various morphology, prognosis, and treatment response. Therefore, it is important to identify valuable biomarkers to predict the therapeutic response and prognosis for TNBCs. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) may have predictive value to pathological complete response (pCR) in neoadjuvant treated TNBCs. However, absence of standardized methodologies for TILs measurement has limited its evaluation and application in practice. In 2014, the International TILs Working Group formulated the recommendations of pathologic evaluation for TILs in breast cancers.


To evaluate the predictive value of TILs scored by methods recommended by International TILs Working Group 2014, we performed a retrospective study of TILs in 166 core needle biopsy specimens of primary invasive TNBCs with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in a Chinese population. Intratumoral TILs (iTILs) and stromal TILs (sTILs) were scored respectively. The associations between TILs and pCR were analyzed.


Both sTILs (p = 0.0001) and iTILs (P = 0.001) were associated with pCR in univariate logistic regression analysis. Multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated that both sTILs (P = 0.006) and iTILs (P = 0.04) were independent predictors for pCR. Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve analysis was used to identify the optimal thresholds of TILs. TNBCs with more than 20% sTILs (P = 0.001) or with more than 10% iTILs (P = 0.003) were associated with higher pCR rates in univariate analysis. Multivariate analysis showed that a 20% threshold of sTILs (P = 0.005) was an independent predictive factor for pCR.


Our study indicated that TILs scored by recommendations of International TILs Working Group 2014 in pre-NAC core needle biopsy specimens was significantly correlated with pCR in TNBCs, higher TILs scores predicting higher pCR rate. Both sTILs and iTILs were independent predictors for pCR in TNBCs. A 20% threshold for sTILs may be feasible to predict pCR to NAC in TNBCs.
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