Histopathological analysis of metastatic melanoma deposits in patients receiving adoptive immunotherapy with tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes

D. J. Cole, J. K. Taubenberger, B. A. Pockaj, J. R. Yannelli, C. Carter, J. Carrasquillo, S. Leitman, S. M. Steinberg, S. A. Rosenberg, Y. C. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) from a wide range of human and murine tumors can be expanded in vitro using interleukin-2 (IL-2). These TIL are cytolytic T lymphocytes with in vivo and in vitro antitumor activity in mice and in humans. TIL from human melanoma can recognize autologous tumor in an MHC-restricted fashion, localize in vivo after111In labeling, and mediate regression of large metastatic deposits. Although studied extensively in vitro, less is known in vivo about TIL activity associated with tumor regression. This study was undertaken, in association with a study of TIL localization, to investigate mechanisms of TIL action by evaluating histopathological changes that occur at the tumor site during TIL administration. A total of 106 pre- and post-treatment pathological specimens from 25 patients enrolled in phase II TIL treatment and111In-TIL imaging protocols were examined blindly by a single pathologist. Histological subtype, lymphocytic infiltration, melanin content, vascularity, and necrosis were documented for each tumor specimen. Average baseline and post-treatment parameters were compared. Any significant changes were evaluated for correlation with clinical response and111In-TIL localization to tumor. Melanin content and vascularity of the tumor did not change as a result of therapy or correlate with either response or TIL localization. However, both increased lymphocytic infiltration and tumor necrosis were present after TIL administration (P=0.044 and 0.032 respectively). Furthermore, increases in lymphocytic infiltration correlated with tumor imaging using111In-TIL, and with the percentage of111In-labeled injectate present per gram of tumor specimen (P=0.036 and 0.0041 respectively). This suggests that TIL either account for the increased lymphocytes directly, or localize to tumor and recruit endogenous lymphocytes. We were unable to demonstrate any pretreatment histopathological predictors of response or variables that significantly correlated with subsequent clinical response, although peak and average values of necrosis were higher in responding patients compared to non-responding patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-303
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Immunology Immunotherapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1994


  • Histopathology
  • Imaging
  • Lymphocytic infiltrate
  • Melanoma
  • TIL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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