Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TILs) as a Biomarker of Abscopal Effect of Cryoablation in Breast Cancer: A Pilot Study

Sonia Y. Khan, Michael W. Melkus, Fahmida Rasha, Maribel Castro, Victoria Chu, Luis Brandi, Hafiz Khan, Harvinder Singh Gill, Kevin Pruitt, Rakhshanda Layeequr Rahman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Morphological evaluation of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in breast cancer is gaining momentum as an immunological biomarker. This experiment evaluates the role of TILs in distant tumors as a measure of abscopal effect from cryoablation of breast cancer. Methods: BALB/c mice underwent bilateral orthotopic transplant with 4T1-12B (triple-negative) cells. At 2 weeks, left tumors were treated by either resection (standard of care group) or cryoablation (intervention group) followed by resection of the distant right tumors 1 week posttreatment. TIL scores were calculated from hematoxylin and eosin-stained sections and phenotyped for cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) markers by immunofluorescence. Primarily resected tumors served as baseline (Tbaseline), whereas resected distant right-sided served as the readout for abscopal effect (AbsRes or AbsCryo). Mice were monitored for tumor recurrence and metastasis. Results: The AbsCryo had a significant mean (SD) increase in stromal (2.8 [1.1]%; p = 0.015) and invasive margin TILs (50 [12]%; p = 0.02) compared with TBaseline (1.0 [0]% and 31 [4.9]%, respectively). CTL phenotyping revealed a significant increase in mean (SD) CD8+ T cells (15.7 [12.1]; p = 0.02) and granzyme B (4.8 [3.6]; p = 0.048) for the AbsCryo compared with TBaseline (5.2 [4.7] and 2.4 [0.9], respectively). Posttreatment, the cryoablation group had no recurrence or metastasis, whereas the resected group showed local recurrence and lung metastasis in 40% of the mice. Postprocedure increase in TIL score of distant tumors was associated with decrease in tumor relapse (p = 0.02). Conclusions: Cryoablation induced a robust tumor-specific TIL response compared with resection, suggesting an abscopal effect leading to the prevention of cancer recurrence and metastasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2914-2925
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


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