CD8+ lymphocyte infiltration is an independent favorable prognostic indicator in basal-like breast cancer

Breast Cancer Research, 03/19/2012

Liu S et al. – CD8+ tumor infiltrating lymphocytes are an independent prognostic factor associated with better patient survival in basal–like breast cancer, but not in non–basal triple negative breast cancers nor in other intrinsic molecular subtypes.


  • Immunohistochemistry for CD8 staining was performed on tissue microarrays from 3992 breast cancer patients.
  • CD8+ tumor infiltrating lymphocytes were counted as intratumoral when in direct contact with tumor cells, and as stromal in adjacent locations.
  • Kaplan-Meier functions and Cox proportional hazards regression models were applied to examine the associations between tumor infiltrating lymphocytes and breast cancer specific survival.


  • Among 3403 cases for which immunohistochemical results were obtained, CD8+ tumor infiltrating lymphocytes were identified in an intratumoral pattern in 32% and stromal pattern in 61% of the cases.
  • In the whole cohort, the presence of intratumoral tumor infiltrating lymphocytes was significantly correlated with young age, high grade, estrogen receptor negativity, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 positivity and core basal intrinsic subtype, and was associated with superior breast cancer specific survival.
  • Multivariate analysis indicated that the favorable prognostic effect of CD8+ tumor infiltrating lymphocytes was significant only in the core basal intrinsic subgroup (Hazard ratio, HR=0.35, 95% CI=0.23-0.54).
  • No association with improved survival was present in those triple negative breast cancers that lack expression of basal markers (HR=0.99, 95% CI=0.48-2.04) nor in the other intrinsic subtypes.

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