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Artificial Intelligence (AI) - powered spatial analysis of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) for prediction of response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC)

Hee Jin Lee et al. — ASCO(2022)



Stromal TIL are a well-recognized prognostic and predictive biomarker in breast cancer. There is a need for tools assisting visual assessment of TIL, to improve reproducibility as well as for convenience. This study aims to assess the clinical significance of AI-powered spatial TIL analysis in the prediction of pathologic complete response (pCR) after NAC in TNBC patients.


H&E stained slides and clinical outcomes data were obtained from stage I – III TNBC patients treated with NAC in two centers in Korea. For spatial TIL analysis, we used Lunit SCOPE IO, an AI-powered H&E Whole-Slide Image (WSI) analyzer, which identifies and quantifies TIL within the cancer or stroma area. Lunit SCOPE IO was developed with a 13.5 x 109 micrometer2 area and 6.2 x 106 TIL from 17,849 H&E WSI of multiple cancer types, annotated by 104 board-certified pathologists. iTIL score and sTIL score were defined as area occupied by TIL in the intratumoral area (%) and the surrounding stroma (%), respectively. Immune phenotype (IP) of each slide was defined from spatial TIL calculation, as inflamed (high TIL density in tumor area), immune-excluded (high TIL density in stroma), or desert (low TIL density overall).


A total of 954 TNBC patients treated from 2006 to 2019 were included in this analysis. pCR (ypT0N0) was confirmed in 261 (27.4%) patients. The neoadjuvant regimens used were mostly anthracycline (97.8%) and taxane (75.1%) -based, with 116 (12.1%) patients receiving additional platinum and 41 (4.3%) patients treated as part of immune checkpoint inhibitor or PARP inhibitor clinical trials.

The median iTIL score and sTIL score were 4.3% (IQR 3.2 – 5.8) and 8.1% (IQR 6.3 – 13.4), respectively. The mean iTIL score was significantly higher in patients who achieved pCR after NAC (5.8% vs. 4.5%, p < 0.001), and a similar difference was observed with sTIL score (12.1%.1 vs. 9.4%, p < 0.001). iTIL score was found to remain as an independent predictor of pCR along with cT stage and Ki-67 in the multivariable analysis (adjusted odds ratio 1.211 (95% CI 1.125 - 1.304) per 1 point (%) change in the score, p <0.001). By IP groups, 291 (30.5%) patients were classified as inflamed, 502 (52.6%) as excluded, and 161 (16.9%) as desert phenotype. The patients with inflamed phenotype were more likely to achieve pCR (44.7%) than other phenotypes (19.8%, p < 0.001). 


AI-powered spatial TIL analysis could assess TIL densities in the cancer area and surrounding stroma of TNBC, and TIL density scores and IP classification could predict pCR after NAC.

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Hee Jin Lee1, Gyungyub Gong1, Soo Youn Cho2, Eun Yoon Cho2, Yoojoo Lim3, Soo Ick Cho3, Wonkyung Jung3, Sanghoon Song3, Mingu Kang3, Jeongun Ryu3, Minuk Ma3, Seonwook Park3,  Kyunghyun Paeng3, Chan-Young Ock3, Sang Yong Song2.

1Department of Pathology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul 05505, Korea.

2Department of Pathology and Translational Genomics, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, 81 Irwon-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, 06351, Republic of Korea. 3Lunit Inc., Seoul, Republic of Korea


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