Immune expression in children with Wilms tumor: a pilot study.
BACKGROUND: Given improvements in multimodality therapy, survival among children with Wilms tumor (WT) exceeds 90%. However, 15% of children with favorable histology and 50% of children with anaplastic WT experience recurrence or progression. Of patients with advanced disease, only 50% survive to adulthood. In adult malignancies (including renal tumors), patient survival has improved with the advent of immunotherapy. However, little is known about the immune microenvironment of WT, making the potential role of immunotherapy unclear. OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study is to perform an exploratory, descriptive analysis of the immune milieu in WT. STUDY DESIGN: Between 2016 and 2017, all pediatric patients with WT, some of whom received neoadjuvant chemotherapy, underwent ex vivo wedge biopsy at the time of nephrectomy. The fresh tumor tissue and peripheral blood samples were analyzed for infiltrating immune infiltrate and effector cells using flow cytometry. Immunohistochemistry was performed for CD4, CD8, and PD-L1 expression. Matched blood samples were obtained for each patient, and circulating immune cells were analyzed by flow cytometry. RESULTS: A total of six patients were enrolled. One patient with neuroblastoma was excluded. The remaining five patients included the following: two with unilateral WT (resected before chemotherapy), two with bilateral WT (resected after neoadjuvant chemotherapy), and one with Denys-Drash syndrome, end-stage renal disease, and history of WT in the contralateral kidney. Immune analysis showed that WT were infiltrated by immune cells regardless of chemotherapy status. CD8 and CD4 T cells were present in the tumor tissue and exhibited an activated phenotype. Elevated levels of natural killer (NK) cells were observed in the tumors (Figure). Immune checkpoint PD-L1 was also found expressed in one of the tumors stained. DISCUSSION: In this pilot study, it was found that WTs were infiltrated by immune cells (CD45+) both before and after chemotherapy. Elevated levels of NK cells infiltrating the tumor specimens, which were quantitatively increased compared with levels of NK cells circulating in the blood, were noted. T cells, particularly CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, were present in tumor specimens. Tumor-infiltrating CD4 and CD8 T cells displayed an activated phenotype as defined by increased expression of human leukocyte antigen-DR isotype (HLA-DR), programmed cell death protein 1 (PD1), and CD57. Together, these findings suggest that WT microenvironment is immune engaged and may be susceptible to immunotherapy similar to other malignancies. CONCLUSIONS: These pilot data suggest an immune-engaged tumor microenvironment is present within WT. This implies that WT may be susceptible to immunotherapy similar to adult renal tumors and other adult malignancies. Follow-up studies are currently underway.
Holl, EK; Routh, JC; Johnston, AW; Frazier, V; Rice, HE; Tracy, ET; Nair, SK
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