Lack of certain T cell receptors implicated in inferior patient outcomes in follicular lymphoma

Lack of certain T cell receptors implicated in inferior patient outcomes in follicular lymphoma

Healthy white blood cells, called "T-cells," play a crucial role in how the body fights follicular lymphoma (FL). That's according to the results published in Cell Reports. T-cells are a key part of the immune system and protect the body by fighting infections and cancer.

"Follicular lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that mainly involves the lymph nodes in the body," says the lead author. While the disease is quite common and has a relatively better prognosis than other cancers, it is not curable. Although many patients respond to treatment, it is common for the cancer to return after treatment.

Researchers were interested in understanding why some patients with follicular lymphoma fare better than others with the disease.  Authors identified at least 12 subsets of intratumoral CD4+ T cells, 3 of which were unique to FL biopsies versus control tissues. Of these subsets, the frequency of naive T cells correlated with improved patient survival. Although total PD-1+ T cell numbers were not associated with patient outcome, specific PD-1+ T cell subpopulations were associated with poor survival.

Their study found that patients who had a poor immune response to the disease exhibited a reduction in costimulatory receptors on their T-cells. Intratumoral T cells lacking CD27 and CD28 co-stimulatory receptor expression were enriched in FL and correlated with inferior patient outcomes. In vitro models revealed that CD70+ lymphoma cells played an important role in expanding this population.

 "The presence of costimulatory receptors on the cell surface allows the immune system to better recognize and attack cancer cells," says the author. "We also found that, among patients with follicular lymphoma, those whose T-cells were lacking costimulatory receptors experienced significantly shorter survival than patients whose T-cells exhibited costimulatory receptors."

The researcher says that, while this research is preclinical and preliminary, it eventually may have clinical implications. "If we can implement a strategy to restore the expression of costimulatory receptors in patients with this subpopulation of T-cells, we may be able to develop a new therapy for some patients with follicular lymphoma."