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Morphological lymphocytic reaction, patient prognosis and PD‐1 expression after surgical resection for oesophageal cancer. BJS 2019; 106: 1352-1361.

Published: 15th August 2019

Authors: Y. Baba, T. Yagi, K. Kosumi, K. Okadome, D. Nomoto, K. Eto et al.


Immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as antibody against programmed cell death protein (PD‐1), have demonstrated antitumour effects in patients with malignancies, including oesophageal cancer. A lymphocytic reaction observed by pathological examination is a manifestation of the host immune response to tumour cells. It was hypothesized that a stronger lymphocytic reaction to tumours might be associated with favourable prognosis in oesophageal cancer.


Using a database of resected oesophageal cancers, four morphological components of lymphocytic reactions (peritumoral, intranest, lymphoid and stromal) to tumours were evaluated in relation to clinical outcome, PD‐1 expression by immunohistochemistry and total lymphocyte count in blood.


Resected oesophageal cancer specimens from 436 patients were included in the study. Among the four morphological components, only peritumoral reaction was associated with patient prognosis (multivariable P for trend <0·001); patients with a higher peritumoral reaction had significantly longer overall survival than those with a lower reaction (multivariable hazard ratio 0·48, 95 per cent c.i. 0·34 to 0·67). The prognostic effect of peritumoral reaction was not significantly modified by other clinical variables (all P for interaction >0·050). Peritumoral reaction was associated with total lymphocyte count in the blood (P < 0·001), supporting the relationship between local immune response and systemic immune competence. In addition, higher morphological peritumoral reaction was associated with high PD‐1 expression on lymphocytes in tumours (P = 0·034).


These findings should help to improve risk‐adapted therapeutic strategies and help stratify patients in the future clinical setting of immunotherapy for oesophageal cancer.

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