Peripheral blood monocyte and T-lymphocyte activation levels at diagnosis predict long-term survival in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients

Hans Jorgen Aarstad*, Olav K. Vintermyr, Elling Ulvestad, Helene H. Aarstad, Kenneth W. Kross, John. H. Heimdal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study was performed to determine whether peripheral blood (PB) monocyte and/or lymphocyte activation at diagnosis were associated with long-term prognosis in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), and to what extent such prognostic properties relate to human papilloma virus (HPV)-associated tumor infection of the included patients. This was a long-term prospective study describing patient survival in relation to PB T lymphocyte and monocyte activation in patients observed for up to 14years following diagnosis. Sixty-four patients from a consecutive cohort of newly diagnosed HNSCC patients along with 16 non-cancer control patients were included over a period of almost 2years. Monocyte responsiveness was assessed at diagnosis (N=56 HNSCC/16 non-cancer controls) by measuring net levels of spontaneous vs lipopolysaccharide-induced monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1 secretion in vitro. PB T lymphocyte activation was determined (N=58 HNSCC/16 controls) by measuring the percentage of T cells expressing CD69 by flow cytometry. Whether HPV infection or not was determined by PCR analysis on formalin fixed paraffin-embedded tumor tissue. Tumor HPV-positive patients had better prognosis than HPV-negative patients. A low net MCP-1 response in monocytes predicted increased survival (Relative risk (RR)=2.1; Confidence interval (CI): 1.1-4.0; p
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-314
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • Head and neck cancer
  • neoplasms
  • immunology
  • monocyte
  • T lymphocyte
  • prognosis

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