PD-L1 Studies Across Tumor Types, Its Differential Expression and Predictive Value in Patients Treated with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Harriet M Kluger, Christopher R Zito, Gabriela Turcu, Marina K Baine, Hongyi Zhang, Adebowale Adeniran, Mario Sznol, David L Rimm, Yuval Kluger, Lieping Chen, Justine V Cohen, Lucia B Jilaveanu
Clinical Cancer Research: An Official Journal of the American Association for Cancer Research 2017 August 1, 23 (15): 4270-4279
Purpose: With recent approval of inhibitors of PD-1 in melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and renal cell carcinoma, extensive efforts are under way to develop biomarkers predictive of response. PD-L1 expression has been most widely studied, and is more predictive in NSCLC than renal cell carcinoma or melanoma. We therefore studied differences in expression patterns across tumor types. Experimental Design: We used tissue microarrays with tumors from NSCLC, renal cell carcinoma, or melanoma and a panel of cell lines to study differences between tumor types. Predictive studies were conducted on samples from 65 melanoma patients treated with PD-1 inhibitors alone or with CTLA-4 inhibitors, characterized for outcome. PD-L1 expression was studied by quantitative immunofluorescence using two well-validated antibodies. Results: PD-L1 expression was higher in NSCLC specimens than renal cell carcinoma, and lowest in melanoma ( P = 0.001), and this finding was confirmed in a panel of cell lines. In melanoma tumors, PD-L1 was expressed either on tumor cells or immune-infiltrating cells. The association between PD-L1 expression in immune-infiltrating cells and progression-free or overall-survival in melanoma patients treated with ipilimumab and nivolumab was stronger than PD-L1 expression in tumor cells, and remained significant on multivariable analysis. Conclusions: PD-L1 expression in melanoma tumor cells is lower than NSCLC or renal cell carcinoma cells. The higher response rate in melanoma patients treated with PD-1 inhibitors is likely related to PD-L1 in tumor-associated inflammatory cells. Further studies are warranted to validate the predictive role of inflammatory cell PD-L1 expression in melanoma and determine its biological significance. Clin Cancer Res; 23(15); 4270-9. ©2017 AACR .

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