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07 2016 Oncoimmunology

Ligand-receptor dissociated expression explains high TSLP without prognostic impact in human primary head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.


Guillot-Delost M, Guilleré L, Berger F, Ventre A, Michea P, Sirven P, Pattarini L, Scholer-Dahirel A, Kebir FZ, Huerre M, Chouchane-Mlik O, Lappartient E, Rodriguez J, Jouffroy T, Klijanienko J, Nicolas A, Sastre-Garau X, Honorio S, Mosseri V, Le Peltier N, Sablin MP, Le Tourneau C, Tartour É, Badoual C, Soumelis V


Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) is an interleukin (IL)-7-like cytokine expressed by epithelial cells during allergic inflammation, and activating dendritic cells (DC). Its expression and functional role in cancer remain controversial. We conducted retrospective (n = 89), and prospective studies including patients with untreated primary head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). We found that TSLP was overexpressed by HNSCC tumor cells, and associated with a highly differentiated status. However, no significant difference in overall and recurrence-free survival was found between patients bearing a tumor with high and low TSLP levels, respectively. Surprisingly, there was no significant association between the levels of TSLP expression, and the number of tumor-infiltrating mature DCLAMP(+) DC. In order to explain the apparent lack of TSLP-induced DC activation, we performed phenotypic and functional experiments on freshly resected tumors. Tumor-infiltrating immune cells, including DC, did not express the TSLP receptor heterodimer (TSLPR chain, IL-7Ralpha chain). Furthermore, freshly sorted blood CD11c(+) DC from healthy donors cultured with tumor-conditioned supernatant exhibited an activated profile, but this was not affected by an anti-TSLP blocking antibody, suggesting a DC activation pathway independent of tumor-derived TSLP. Overall, our results demonstrate that TSLP is overexpressed in HNSCC but its function is hampered by the lack of TSLPR-expressing cells in the tumor microenvironment. Such a dissociated ligand-receptor expression may impact intercellular communication in other immune activation pathways, and tumor types.

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