Recently, an association between tumor infiltrating Forkhead box P3 regulatory T cells (Treg) and an unfavorable prognosis has been clinically shown in some cancers, but the mechanism of Treg induction in the tumor microenvironment remains uncertain. The aims of the present study were to examine the relationship between Treg and patient outcome and to investigate whether Treg induction is influenced by the characteristics of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) in lung adenocarcinoma. The numbers of Treg in both the tumor stroma and the tumor nest were counted in 200 consecutive pathological stage I lung invasive adenocarcinoma specimens. To examine whether the characteristics of CAF influence Treg induction, we selected and cultured CAF from low Treg and high Treg adenocarcinoma. The number of Treg was much higher in the stroma than in the nest (P < 0.01). Patients with high Treg had a significantly poorer prognosis than those with low Treg (overall survival: P = 0.03; recurrence-free survival: P = 0.02; 5-year overall survival: 85.4% vs 93.0%). Compared with the CAF from low Treg adenocarcinoma, culture supernatant of the CAF from high Treg adenocarcinoma induced more Treg (P = 0.01). Also, CAF from high Treg adenocarcinoma expressed significantly higher mRNA levels of transforming growth factor-β (P = 0.01) and vascular endothelial growth factor (P = 0.01), both of which are involved in Treg induction. Our studies suggest the possibility that CAF expressing immunoregulatory cytokines may induce Treg in the stroma, creating a tumor-promoting microenvironment in lung adenocarcinoma that leads to a poor outcome.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research