Cancer research of immune-modulating mechanisms mainly addresses the role of tumor-infiltrating immune cells. Mechanisms modulating the adaptive immune system at the primary activation site - the draining lymph node (LN) - are less investigated. Here we present tumor-caused histomorphological changes in tumor draining LNs of breast cancer patients, dependent on the localization (sentinel LN vs. non-sentinel LN), the tumor size, the intrinsic subtype and nodal metastatic status. The quantitative morphological study was conducted in breast cancer patients with at least one sentinel LN and no neoadjuvant therapy. All LNs were annotated considering to their topographical location, stained for IgD/H&E, digitized and quantitatively analyzed. In 206 patients, 394 sentinels and 940 non-sentinel LNs were categorized, comprising 40758 follicles and 7074 germinal centers. Subtype specific immunomorphological patterns were detectable: Follicular density was higher in LNs of Her2 enriched hormone receptor positive and triple-negative breast cancers whereas hormone receptor positive breast cancers showed more macrophage infiltrations in the LN cortex. Follicles are rounder in metastatic LNs and non-sentinel LNs. The identified immunomorphological changes reflect different underlying immunomodulations taking place in the tumor-draining LNs and should therefore be considered as possible prognostic and predictive markers for LN metastasis and therapy associated immunomodulation.
Research Areas and Centers
- Research Area: Luebeck Integrated Oncology Network (LION)