B-Helper Neutrophils in Regional Lymph Nodes Correlate with Improved Prognosis in Patients with Head and Neck Cancer

The role of neutrophils during cancer formation and elimination is diverse. Here, for the first time, we investigate neutrophil helper cells (NBH), their influence on B cell activity in the regional lymph nodes (RLN) of head-and-neck cancer patients and the effect of this neutrophil/B cell interaction on patient prognosis. Circulating and RLN neutrophils of patients with stage I-IV head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma were investigated with flow cytometry and qPCR. In addition, neutrophil/B cell co-localization in RLNs was evaluated using immunohistochemistry. B cell proliferation was assessed and correlated with the distance to neutrophils. Patient survival was evaluated. Neutrophils with the helper cell phenotype were identified in the RLN of HNC patients. B cells in close proximity to such NBH showed significantly higher proliferation rates, together with elevated activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) expression. Notably, patient survival was significantly higher in individuals with high NBH frequencies in the B follicles of RLNs. Neutrophils in RLN can support T cell-independent activation of the adaptive immune system through B cell stimulation, capturing helper cell phenotype character. The presence of such helper neutrophils in the RLNs of HNC patients positively correlates with patient prognosis.


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