Recent clinical trials have highlighted the limited efficacy of T cell–based immunotherapy in patients with glioblastoma (GBM). To better understand the characteristics of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) in GBM, we performed cellular indexing of transcriptomes and epitopes by sequencing and single-cell RNA sequencing with paired V(D)J sequencing, respectively, on TILs from two cohorts of patients totaling 15 patients with high-grade glioma, including GBM or astrocytoma, IDH-mutant, grade 4 (G4A). Analysis of the CD8+ TIL landscape reveals an enrichment of clonally expanded GZMK+ effector T cells in the tumor compared with matched blood, which was validated at the protein level. Furthermore, integration with other cancer types highlights the lack of a canonically exhausted CD8+ T-cell population in GBM TIL. These data suggest that GZMK+ effector T cells represent an important T-cell subset within the GBM microenvironment and may harbor potential therapeutic implications.

Significance:

To understand the limited efficacy of immune-checkpoint blockade in GBM, we applied a multiomics approach to understand the TIL landscape. By highlighting the enrichment of GZMK+ effector T cells and the lack of exhausted T cells, we provide a new potential mechanism of resistance to immunotherapy in GBM.

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