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Translational Therapeutics

Tumour-reactive T cell subsets in the microenvironment of ovarian cancer

British Journal of Cancervolume 120pages424434 (2019) | Download Citation



Solid malignancies are frequently infiltrated with T cells. The success of adoptive cell transfer (ACT) with expanded tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in melanoma warrants its testing in other cancer types. In this preclinical study, we investigated whether clinical-grade TILs could be manufactured from ovarian cancer (OC) tumour specimens.


Thirty-four tumour specimens were obtained from 33 individual patients with OC. TILs were analysed for phenotype, antigen specificity and functionality.


Minimally expanded TILs (Young TILs) were successfully established from all patients. Young TILs contained a high frequency of CD3+ cells with a variable CD4/CD8 ratio. TILs could be expanded to clinical numbers. Importantly, recognition of autologous tumour cells was demonstrated in TILs in >50% of the patients. We confirmed with mass spectrometry the presentation of multiple tumour antigens, including peptides derived from the cancer-testis antigen GAGE, which could be recognised by antigen-specific TILs. Antigen-specific TILs could be isolated and further expanded in vitro.


These findings support the hypothesis that patients with OC can benefit from ACT with TILs and led to the initiation of a pilot clinical trial at our institution .

Trial Registration NCT02482090.

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Data and material generated and analysed during the current study can be available upon reasonable request to the corresponding author.

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Lissen Ingvartsen is acknowledged for assistance in patient inclusion. The studies were supported by grants from the OvaCure Foundation, the Danish Cancer Society Research Foundation, the Anticancer Fund and Aase og Ejnar Danielsens Foundation.

Authors’ contributions

M.C.W.W. conceived and designed experiments, developed methodology, acquired data, analysed and interpreted data, and wrote the manuscript. C.C. acquired data, analysed and interpreted data, and wrote the manuscript. R.A., J.W.K., M.P. and C.F. acquired data and proof-read the manuscript. T.H. and H.L. acquired data, analysed and interpreted data, and wrote the manuscript. G.C., M.B.-S., M.D. and I.M.S. supervised the study.

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Author notes

  1. These contributed equally: Marco Donia, Inge Marie Svane


  1. Center for Cancer Immune Therapy, Department of Hematology, Herlev Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Marie Christine Wulff Westergaard
    • , Rikke Andersen
    • , Julie Westerlin Kjeldsen
    • , Magnus Pedersen
    • , Christina Friese
    • , Marco Donia
    •  & Inge Marie Svane
  2. Department of Oncology, Herlev Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Rikke Andersen
    • , Julie Westerlin Kjeldsen
    • , Magnus Pedersen
    • , Marco Donia
    •  & Inge Marie Svane
  3. Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

    • Chloé Chong
    • , George Coukos
    •  & Michal Bassani-Sternberg
  4. Department of Oncology, University Hospital of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

    • Chloé Chong
    • , George Coukos
    •  & Michal Bassani-Sternberg
  5. Department of Pathology, Herlev Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Thomas Hasselager
  6. Department of Gynaecology, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Henrik Lajer


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Ethics approval

The Danish National Committee on Health Research Ethics approved the scientific use of the patient material (protocol number H-2-2014-055).

Consent for publication

All patients included in the study have signed informed consent to participate.


This work is published under the standard license to publish agreement. After 12 months the work will become freely available and the license terms will switch to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Inge Marie Svane.

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