In the era of immune checkpoint inhibitors, understanding the metastatic microenvironment of proficient mismatch repair/microsatellite stable (pMMR/MSS) colorectal cancer (CRC) is of paramount importance to both prognostication and the development of more effective novel therapies. In this study, primary and paired metastasis tissue samples were collected from patients with resectable metastatic CRC treated with adjuvant FOLFOX or peri-operative chemotherapy in the MIROX phase III prospective study. In total, 74 cancer tissues were stained for CD3, CD8, Forkhead box protein 3 (FOXP3), programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1, invasive front, stromal, intra-epithelial compartments), and programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1, tumor, immune cells). The immune profiling of primary CRC had a limited value to predict the immune context of paired metastases for all markers but CD3+. The expression of CD8 and PD-L1 was higher in metastases after neoadjuvant FOLFOX. In metastases, both CD3 T cells at the invasive front and PD-L1 expressions on immune cells were predictive of better disease-free survival. These results show that the effect of FOLFOX on modifying the immune microenvironment in resected CRC metastases and measurement of PD-L1 expression and tumor-infiltrating CD8 T cells in pMMR/MSS metastatic tissue samples could improve treatment strategies of metastatic CRC patients.
Keywords: PD-L1; T lymphocytes; immune profile; oligometastatic colorectal cancer; pMMR.