To elucidate the relationship between local immunocompetent cells and prognosis of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after resection.Methods
HE staining and immunohistochemical study were carried out on specimens from patients underwent surgical resection. Local immunocompetent cells, such as dendritic cells (DCs), memory T cells, CD3+ T lymphocytes and CD8+ T lymphocytes, were counted and their relationships with tumor-free survival rate were analyzed by grouping DCs with the T lymphocytes retrospectively.Results
The number grade of infiltrating immunocompetent cells in HCC nodules and pericancerous tissues under HE staining had no significant correlation with tumor-free survival time (P=0.054, 0.071, respectively). DCs were mainly among tumor cells, encircling tumor cells with their pseudopodia and were in contact with T lymphocytes. A certain number of DCs in HCC nodules (≥25/10HPF) statistically correlated to tumor-free survival time (P=0.005), while a certain number of DCs in pericancerous tissues (≥28/10HPF) had no correlation with tumor-free survival time (P=0.329). The number of memory T cells, CD3+ T lymphocytes and CD8+ T lymphocytes in HCC nodules strongly correlated to tumor-free survival time (P=0.003, 0.005, 0.037, respectively). The tumor-free survival rate curves revealed that the more DCs or together with memory T cells/CD3+ T lymphocytes or that the more CD8+ T lymphocytes were detected in HCC nodules, the better the prognosis would be.Conclusions
Marked infiltration of DCs in HCC nodules was closely related to the prognosis of HCC after surgical resection and can be served as a predictive index for recurrence and metastasis of HCC.