Virchows Archiv

, Volume 474, Issue 4, pp 463–474 | Cite as

Integrating histopathology, immune biomarkers, and molecular subgroups in solid cancer: the next step in precision oncology

  • Nicolas A. GiraldoEmail author
  • J. David Peske
  • Catherine Sautès-Fridman
  • Wolf H. Fridman
Review Article


For many years, the gold standard cancer grading and staging had focused on the characteristics of the cancer cells and often disregarded the non-tumoral cell compartments. The expansion of research on the tumor immune microenvironment, the successes and dissemination of immunotherapies to treat cancer, and the open access to large -omic databases have allowed the development of novel powerful immune-based prognostic and theranostic biomarkers. Although they often correlate with histopathologic characteristics and TNM staging, in many instances, they are independently associated with, and potentially superior predictors of, the patient’s prognosis and response to immunotherapies. As pathologists in the era of precision medicine, we are uniquely positioned to participate in the integration of these histologic and molecular features of the tumor microenvironment to provide the best prognostic information to clinicians and patients. In this review, we summarize some of the most important immune-related prognostic biomarkers in solid cancer, how they integrate with traditional histopathologic (i.e., staging and grading) and novel molecular stratification systems, and their potential role as predictors to response to agents blocking the PD-1/PD-L1 axis.


Tumor immune microenvironment Biomarkers Molecular subgroups Immune checkpoints 



This work was supported by the Institut National de la santé et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM), University Paris-Descartes, University Pierre and Marie Curie, the Site de Recherche Integrée sur le Cancer (SIRIC) Cancer Research for Personalized Medicine (CARPEM) program, the LabEx Immuno-Oncology (LAXE62_9UMRS972 FRIDMAN), the Institut National Du Cancer (INCa, HTE program), and the Cancéropôle Ile-de-France, O. Lecomte.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolas A. Giraldo
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. David Peske
    • 1
  • Catherine Sautès-Fridman
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Wolf H. Fridman
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Pathology DepartmentJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.INSERM, UMR_S 1138, Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers, Team “Cancer, immune control and escape”ParisFrance
  3. 3.Sorbonne Paris Cite, UMR_S 1138, Centre de Recherche des CordeliersUniversity Paris Descartes Paris 5ParisFrance
  4. 4.UMR_S 1138, Centre de Recherche des CordeliersSorbonne UniversityParisFrance

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