PD-L1 expression in squamous-cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma of the lung
Background: With introduction of immunotherapy (IT) into the treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), a need for predictive biomarker became apparent. PD-L1 (programmed death ligand 1) protein expression is most widely explored predictive marker for response to IT. We assessed PD-L1 expression in tumor cells (TC) and immune cells (IC) of squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC) and adenocarcinoma (AC) patients.
Patients and methods: We obtained 54 surgically resected tumor specimens of and assessed PD-L1 expression by immunohistochemistry after staining them with antibody SP142 (Ventana, USA). Clinicopathological characteristics were acquired from the hospital registry database. Results were analyzed according to cut-off values of ≥5% and ≥10% of PD-L1 expression on either TC or IC.
Results: 29 (54%) samples were AC and 25 (46%) were SCC. PD-L1 expression was significantly higher in TC of SCC compared to AC at both cut-off values (52% vs. 17%, p = 0.016 and 52% vs. 14%, p = 0.007, respectively) no difference in PD-L1 expression in IC of SCC and AC was found. In AC alone, PD-L1 expression was significantly higher in IC compared to TC at both cut-off values (72% vs. 17%, p <0.001 and 41% vs. 14%, p = 0.008, respectively), while no significant difference between IC and TC PD-L1 expression was revealed in SCC.
Conclusions: Our results suggest a significantly higher PD-L1 expression in TC of SCC compared to AC, regardless of the cut-off value. PD-L1 expression in IC is high in both histological subtypes of NSCLC, and adds significantly to the overall positivity of AC but not SCC.