Tertiary Lymphoid Structures in Cancer: Drivers of Antitumor Immunity, Immunosuppression, or Bystander Sentinels in Disease?

Emily Jayne Colbeck, Ann Ager, Awen Gallimore, Gareth Wyn Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

130 Citations (Scopus)
418 Downloads (Pure)


Secondary lymphoid organs are integral to initiation and execution of adaptive immune responses. These organs provide a setting for interactions between antigen-specific lymphocytes and antigen-presenting cells recruited from local infected or inflamed tissues. Secondary lymphoid organs develop as a part of a genetically preprogrammed process during embryogenesis. However, organogenesis of secondary lymphoid tissues can also be recapitulated in adulthood during de novo lymphoid neogenesis of tertiary lymphoid structures (TLSs). These ectopic lymphoid-like structures form in the inflamed tissues afflicted by various pathological conditions, including cancer, autoimmunity, infection, or allograft rejection. Studies are beginning to shed light on the function of such structures in different disease settings, raising important questions regarding their contribution to progression or resolution of disease. Data show an association between the tumor-associated TLSs and a favorable prognosis in various types of human cancer, attracting the speculation that TLSs support effective local antitumor immune responses. However, definitive evidence for the role for TLSs in fostering immune responses in vivo are lacking, with current data remaining largely correlative by nature. In fact, some more recent studies have even demonstrated an immunosuppressive, tumor-promoting role for cancer-associated TLSs. In this review, we will discuss what is known about the development of cancer-associated TLSs and the current understanding of their potential role in the antitumor immune response.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1830
Number of pages18
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2017


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