Purpose To explore the immune phenotype of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in patients with high-risk nonmuscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). Methods We prospectively collected blood samples from patients with high-risk NMIBC treated at our institution. PBMC were analyzed by flow cytometry to determine the frequency of T cells and NK cells and the expression of immunoregulatory molecules (Tim-3, TIGIT and PD-1). PBMC from healthy donors (HD) were included for comparison, and associations with response to BCG were investigated. Results A total of 38 patients were included, 19 BCG responders and 19 BCG refractory. Compared to 16 PBMC from HD, the frequency of total NK cells was significantly higher in patients with NMIBC [15.2% (IQR: 11.4, 22.2) vs. 5.72% (IQR: 4.84, 9.79); p = 0.05], whereas the frequency of T cells was not statistically different. Both Tim-3 and TIGIT expressions were significantly higher in NMIBC compared to HD, particularly in NK cells [13.8% (11.0; 22.4) vs. 5.56% (4.20; 10.2) and 34.9% (18.9; 53.5) vs. 1.82% (0.63; 5.16), respectively; p < 0.001]. Overall, the expression of PD-1 in all cell types was low in both NMIBC patients and HD. The immune phenotype was not significantly different before and after initiation of BCG. However, the proportion of CD8 + T cells before BCG was significantly higher in responders. Conclusion The immune phenotype of PBMC from patients with high-risk NMIBC was significantly different from HD, regardless of the presence of disease or the initiation of BCG. Peripheral CD8 + T cells could play a role in response to BCG.
- Immune checkpoints
- Immune phenotype
- Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer
- Peripheral blood mononuclear cells
- Predictive factors