Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes appear to be a predictor of survival in many cancers, including cutaneous melanoma. We applied automated multispectral imaging to determine whether density and distribution of T cells within primary cutaneous melanoma tissue correlate with survival of metastatic melanoma patients after dendritic cell (DC) vaccination. CD3+ T cell infiltration in primary tumors from 77 metastatic melanoma patients was quantified using the ratio of intratumoral versus peritumoral T-cell densities (I/P ratio). Patients with longer survival after DC vaccination had stronger T-cell infiltration than patients with shorter survival in a discovery cohort of 19 patients (P = 0.000026) and a validation cohort of 39 patients (P = 0.000016). I/P ratio was the strongest predictor of survival in a multivariate analysis including M substage and serum lactate dehydrogenase level. To evaluate I/P ratio as a predictive biomarker, we analyzed 19 chemotherapy-treated patients. Longer survival times of DC-vaccinated compared with chemotherapy-treated patients was observed for high (P = 0.000566), but not low (P = 0.154) I/P ratios. In conclusion, T-cell infiltration into primary melanoma is a strong predictor of survival after DC vaccination in metastatic melanoma patients who, on average, started this therapy several years after primary tumor resection. The infiltration remains predictive even after adjustment for late-stage prognostic markers. Our findings suggest that the I/P ratio is a potential predictive biomarker for treatment selection. Cancer Res; 76(12); 3496–506. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Research Online (http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received November 30, 2015.
- Revision received March 7, 2016.
- Accepted March 29, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.