Intratumoral CD8+ T cells with a tissue-resident memory phenotype mediate local immunity and immune checkpoint responses in breast cancer

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CD8+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes with a tissue-resident memory T (TRM) cell phenotype are associated with favorable prognosis in patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). However, the relative contribution of CD8+ TRM cells to anti-tumor immunity and immune checkpoint blockade efficacy in breast cancer remains unknown. Here, we show that intratumoral CD8+ T cells in murine mammary tumors transcriptionally resemble those from TNBC patients. Phenotypic and transcriptional studies established two intratumoral sub-populations: one more enriched in markers of terminal exhaustion (TEX-like) and the other with a bona fide resident phenotype (TRM-like). Treatment with anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 therapy resulted in expansion of these intratumoral populations, with the TRM-like subset displaying significantly enhanced cytotoxic capacity. TRM-like CD8+ T cells could also provide local immune protection against tumor rechallenge and a TRM gene signature extracted from tumor-free tissue was significantly associated with improved clinical outcomes in TNBC patients treated with checkpoint inhibitors.

Journal details

Journal Cancer Cell
Volume 41
Issue number 3
Pages 585-601.e8
Available online
Publication date