Intratumoral Th2 predisposition combines with an increased Th1 functional phenotype in clinical response to intravesical BCG in bladder cancer

Th1-type immunity is considered to be required for efficient response to BCG in bladder cancer, although Th2 predisposition of BCG responders has recently been reported. The aim was to evaluate the relationship of Th1 and Th2 components in 23 patients undergoing BCG treatment. Peripheral blood, serum and urine samples were prospectively collected at baseline, during and after BCG. Th1 (neopterin, tryptophan, kynurenine, kynurenine-to-tryptophan ratio (KTR), IL-12, IFN-γ, soluble TNF-R75 and IL-2Rα) and Th2 (IL-4, IL-10) biomarkers as well as CD4 expression in T helper (Th), effector and regulatory T cells were determined. Local immune cell subsets were measured on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded cancer tissue by immunohistochemistry to examine expression of transcription factors that control Th1 (T-bet) and Th2-type (GATA3) immunity. We confirmed a Th2 predisposition with a mean GATA3/T-bet ratio of 5.51. BCG responders showed significantly higher levels of urinary (p = 0.003) and serum neopterin (p = 0.012), kynurenine (p = 0.015), KTR (p = 0.005), IFN-γ (p = 0.005) and IL-12 (p = 0.003) during therapy, whereas levels of IL-10 decreased significantly (p < 0.001) compared to non-responders. GATA3/T-bet ratio correlated positively with serum neopterin (p = 0.008), IFN-γ (p = 0.013) and KTR (p = 0.018) after the first BCG instillation. We observed a significant increase in CD4 expression in the Th cell population (p < 0.05), with only a modest tendency toward higher frequency in responders compared to non-responders (p = 0.303). The combined assessment of GATA3/T-bet ratio, neopterin and KTR may be a useful biomarker in predicting BCG response. Th2-promoting factors such as GATA3 may trigger Th1-type immune responses and thus contribute to the BCG success.

Cancer immunology, immunotherapy : CII. 2016 Dec 22 [Epub ahead of print]

Renate Pichler, Georg Gruenbacher, Zoran Culig, Andrea Brunner, Dietmar Fuchs, Josef Fritz, Hubert Gander, Andrea Rahm, Martin Thurnher

Department of Urology, Research Group of Urologic Oncology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstrasse 35, 6020, Innsbruck, Austria. ., Department of Urology, Research Group of Urologic Oncology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstrasse 35, 6020, Innsbruck, Austria., Division of General Pathology, Department of Pathology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria., Division of Biological Chemistry, Biocenter, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria., Department of Medical Statistics, Informatics and Health Economics, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.