A template to quantify the location and density of CD3 + and CD8 + tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in colon cancer by digital pathology on whole slides for an objective, standardized immune score assessment
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonCancer Immunology and Immunotherapy. 2021, 70, 2049-2057. 10.1007/s00262-020-02834-y
Background: In colon cancer, the location and density of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) can classify patients into low and high-risk groups for prognostication. While a commercially available ‘Immunoscore®’ exists, the incurred expenses and copyrights may prevent universal use. The aim of this study was to develop a robust and objective quantification method of TILs in colon cancer. Methods: A consecutive, unselected series of specimens from patients with colon cancer were available for immunohistochemistry and assessment of TILs by automated digital pathology. CD3 + and CD8 + cells at the invasive margin and in tumor center were assessed on consecutive sections using automated digital pathology and image analysis software (Visiopharm®). An algorithm template for whole slide assessment, generated cell counts per square millimeters (cells/mm2), from which the immune score was calculated using distribution volumes. Furthermore, immune score was compared with clinical and histopathological characteristics to confirm its relevance. Results: Based on the quantified TILs numbers by digital image analyses, patients were classified into low (n = 83, 69.7%), intermediate (n = 14, 11.8%) and high (n = 22, 18.5%) immune score groups. High immune score was associated with stage I–II tumors (p = 0.017) and a higher prevalence of microsatellite instable (MSI) tumors (p = 0.030). MSI tumors had a significantly higher numbers of CD3 + TILs in the invasive margin and CD8 + TILs in both tumor center and invasive margin, compared to microsatellite stable (MSS) tumors. Conclusion: A digital template to quantify an easy-to-use immune score corresponds with clinicopathological features and MSI in colon cancer.