Prof. Dr. med. Rainer Fietkau

CD8+ and Regulatory T cells Differentiate Tumor Immune Phenotypes and Predict Survival in Locally Advanced Head and Neck Cancer

Alessia Echarti, Markus Hecht, Maike Büttner-Herold, Marlen Haderlein, Arndt Hartmann, Rainer Fietkau and Luitpold Distel

Background: The tumor immune status “inflamed”, “immune excluded”, and “desert” might serve as a predictive parameter. We studied these three cancer immune phenotypes while using a simple immunohistochemical algorithm. Methods: Pre-treatment tissue samples of 280 patients with locally advanced HNSCC treated with radiochemotherapy were analyzed. A double staining of CD8+ cytotoxic T cells (CTL) and FoxP3+ (Treg) was performed and the cell density was evaluated in the intraepithelial and stromal compartment of the tumor. Results: The classification of tumors as “immune desert” when stromal CTL were ≤ 50 cells/mm2, “inflamed” when intraepithelial CTL were > 500 cells/mm2, and as “excluded” when neither of these definitions met these cut off values allowed the best discrimination regarding overall survival. These groups had median OS periods of 37, 61, and 85 months, respectively. In “immune desert” and “immune excluded” tumors high Treg tended to worsen OS, but in “inflamed” tumors high Treg clearly improved OS. Conclusions: We propose that, in locally advanced HNSCC, the tumor immune state “inflamed”, “immune excluded”, and “immune desert” can be defined by intraepithelial and stromal CTL. Tregs can further subdivide these groups. The opposing effects of Tregs in the different groups might be the reason for the inconsistency of Tregs prognostic values published earlier.

Journals Cancers Volume 11 Issue 9 10.3390/cancers11091398


Non-professional phagocytosis: a general feature of normal tissue cells

Jacob C. Seeberg, Monika Loibl, Fabian Moser, Manuela Schwegler, Maike Büttner-Herold, Christoph Daniel, Felix B. Engel, Arndt Hartmann, Ursula Schlötzer-Schrehardt, Margarete Goppelt-Struebe, Vera Schellerer, Elisabeth Naschberger, Ingo Ganzleben, Lucie Heinzerling, Rainer Fietkau & Luitpold V. Distel.

Non-professional phagocytosis by cancer cells has been described for decades. Recently, non-professional phagocytosis by normal tissue cells has been reported, which prompted us to take a closer look at this phenomenon. Non-professional phagocytosis was studied by staining cultured cells with live-cell staining dyes or by staining paraffin-embedded tissues by immunohistochemistry. Here, we report that each of 21 normal tissue cell lines from seven different organs was capable of phagocytosis, including ex vivo cell cultures examined before the 3rd passage as well as the primary and virus-transformed cell lines. We extended our analysis to an in vivo setting, and we found the occurrence of non-professional phagocytosis in healthy skin biopsies immediately after resection. Using dystrophin immunohistochemistry for membrane staining, human post-infarction myocardial tissue was assessed. We found prominent signs of non-professional phagocytosis at the transition zone of healthy and infarcted myocardia. Taken together, our findings suggest that non-professional phagocytosis is a general feature of normal tissue cells.

Scientific Reports volume 9, Article number: 11875 (2019)