Recently, we demonstrated that the intratumoural density of CD3+ and CD8+ T cells is independently prognostic and associated with lymph node (LN) harvest and LN size in node-negative colon cancer. We assumed that FOXP3+ T cells (Tregs) could be inversely associated with these LN features. Therefore, we performed a retrospective immunohistochemical analysis using an already well-characterised collection of stage I/II colon cancer cases. Receiver operating characteristic analysis revealed the optimal cut-off for predicting cancer-related death to be 70 FOXP3+ Tregs/mm2 at the invasion front. Other than T-stage, none of the relevant histopathological parameters were associated with the density of FOXP3+ cells. In particular, no relation to LN size and count were found. Cancer-specific survival was significantly improved in cases with high densities (115 vs 86 months; p=0.026) in univariable but not in multivariable analysis. In contrast to other cancers, FOXP3+ T cells are associated with a favourable outcome.
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Handling editor Cheok Soon Lee
Contributors BM and BK planned and designed the study; BP performed laboratory work; BM, TS and BP evaluated the slides; HK revised the manuscript critically; GS provided the follow-up data; BM, BP and GS analysed the data; BM performed the statistical calculations. All authors read and approved the manuscript.
Funding This work was supported by the Hermann-Egger-Stiftung.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval Internal Review Board Klinikum Augsburg.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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