Tumor microvessel density (MVD) is a prognostic factor for patients with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC). Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) are also key components of the tumor microenvironment that play important roles in ICC progression. This study aimed to clarify the relationships between the MVD and immune status and prognosis in patients with ICC. Immunohistochemical staining for cluster of differentiation 34 (CD34), cluster of differentiation 8 (CD8), forkhead box protein P3 (Foxp3), and programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) was performed. The relationships between the MVD and clinicopathological characteristics and outcomes were analyzed. Additionally, the correlations between the MVD, CD8+ and Foxp3+ TIL counts, and PD-L1 expression were evaluated. One hundred ICC patients were classified into high (n = 50) and low (n = 50) MVD groups. The serum platelet and carbohydrate antigen 19-9 levels were higher in the low MVD group than in the high MVD group (P = 0.017 and P = 0.008, respectively). The low MVD group showed a significantly larger tumor size (P = 0.016), more frequent microvascular invasion (P = 0.001), and a higher rate of intrahepatic (P = 0.023) and lymph node (P < 0.001) metastasis than the high MVD group. Moreover, the MVD showed a high positive correlation with CD8+ TILs (r = 0.754, P < 0.001) and a negative correlation with Foxp3+ TILs (r = −0.302, P = 0.003). In contrast, no significant correlation was observed between the MVD and PD-L1 expression in cancer cells (P = 0.817). Patients with low MVDs had a significantly worse prognosis than those with high MVDs. Furthermore, multivariable analyses revealed that a low MVD influenced recurrence-free survival. A decreased intratumoral MVD might predict ICC patient outcomes. Tumor microvessels might be associated with ICC progression, possibly by altering TIL recruitment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine