Background: There is a paucity of data regarding the prognostic influence of peripheral blood CD4+ T lymphopenia in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Therefore, we investigated the prognostic value of T lymphopenia in NSCLC.
Materials: Treatment-naive patients with a pathological diagnosis of NSCLC, at clinical stage I to IV were included in the prospective TELOCAP1 study. Lymphocytes count was evaluated in peripheral blood by flow cytometry. CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphopenia were defined as an absolute count of < 500/μL and < 224/μL respectively. The prognostic value of T lymphopenia was analyzed in the whole population, in local/loco-regional (stage I-IIIB) and in advanced (stage IV) NSCLC disease, using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression models for survival curves and multivariate analysis, respectively.
Results: Between July 2010 and January 2014, 169 evaluable patients with clinical stage I to IV NSCLC were prospectively enrolled. The prevalence of CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphopenia was similar in the study population (around 29%). Patients with CD4+ T lymphopenia showed lower overall survival than those with CD4+ T lymphocytes count > 500/μL (median overall survival (OS) 16.1 versus 21.7 months, hazard ratio (HR): 1.616 [95% CI: 1.1-2.36], p = 0.012). This association with OS was especially marked in local/loco-regional NSCLC stages (median OS, 21.8 versus 72 months, respectively, HR: 1.88 [95% CI: 0.9-3.8], p = 0.035). Multivariate analysis confirmed the worse prognosis associated with CD4+ T lymphopenia in local/loco-regional NSCLC, but not in metastatic patients (HR 2.028 [95% CI = 1.065-3.817] p = 0.02). Restricted cubic spline analysis showed that patients with CD4+ T lymphocytes count ≤500/μL displayed a high risk of death regardless of NSCLC clinical stage. There was no obvious relationship between CD8+ T lymphopenia and clinical outcome.
Conclusion: We identified CD4+ T lymphopenia as an independent prognostic factor in local/loco-regional stages of NSCLC and CD4+ T lymphopenia is also associated with a high risk of death, regardless of NSCLC clinical stage.
Trial registration: EUDRACT: 2009-A00642-55.
Keywords: CD4+ T lymphopenia; CD8+ T lymphopenia - local/loco-regional NSCLC; Non small cell lung cancer; Prognosis.