Purpose: Clinical trials with immune checkpoint inhibition in sarcomas have demonstrated minimal response. Here, we interrogated the tumor microenvironment (TME) of two contrasting soft-tissue sarcomas (STS), rhabdomyosarcomas and undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcomas (UPS), with differing genetic underpinnings and responses to immune checkpoint inhibition to understand the mechanisms that lead to response. Experimental Design: Utilizing fresh and formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue from patients diagnosed with UPS and rhabdomyosarcomas, we dissected the TME by using IHC, flow cytometry, and comparative transcriptomic studies. Results: Our results demonstrated both STS subtypes to be dominated by tumor-associated macrophages and infiltrated with immune cells that localized near the tumor vasculature. Both subtypes had similar T-cell densities, however, their in situ distribution diverged. UPS specimens demonstrated diffuse intratumoral infiltration of T cells, while rhabdomyosarcomas samples revealed intratumoral T cells that clustered with B cells near perivascular beds, forming tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS). T cells in UPS specimens were comprised of abundant CD8þ T cells exhibiting high PD-1 expression, which might represent the tumor reactive repertoire. In rhabdomyosarcomas, T cells were limited to TLS, but expressed immune checkpoints and immunomodulatory molecules which, if appropriately targeted, could help unleash T cells into the rest of the tumor tissue. Conclusions: Our work in STS revealed an immunosuppressive TME dominated by myeloid cells, which may be overcome with activation of T cells that traffic into the tumor. In rhabdomyosarcomas, targeting T cells found within TLS may be key to achieve antitumor response.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research