Research Papers:

Correlating programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression, mismatch repair deficiency, and outcomes across tumor types: implications for immunotherapy

Seung Tae Kim, Samuel J. Klempner, Se Hoon Park, Joon Oh Park, Young Suk Park, Ho Yeong Lim, Won Ki Kang, Kyoung-Mee Kim and Jeeyun Lee _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:77415-77423. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.20492

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Seung Tae Kim1,*, Samuel J. Klempner2,3,*, Se Hoon Park1, Joon Oh Park1, Young Suk Park1, Ho Yeong Lim1, Won Ki Kang1, Kyoung-Mee Kim4 and Jeeyun Lee1

1Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

2The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA, USA

3Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA

4Department of Pathology & Translational Genomics, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

*Contributed equally, co-first authors

Correspondence to:

Jeeyun Lee, email: [email protected]

Kyoung-Mee Kim, email: [email protected]

Keywords: programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), mismatch repair deficiency (dMMR), immunotherapy, biomarker, gastrointestinal cancer

Received: June 01, 2017     Accepted: July 20, 2017     Published: August 24, 2017


The identification of biomarkers associated with response to therapeutic agents is central to optimizing patient outcomes. Expression of the immune checkpoint proteins PD-1/L1, and DNA mismatch repair deficiency (dMMR) status may be predictive response biomarkers for immunotherapies, but their overlap requires further study. We prospectively conducted PD-L1 and MMR immunohistochemistry (IHC) on 430 consecutive patients with advanced gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, genitourinary (GU) cancers or rare cancers between June 2012 and March 2016. Overall 393/430 (91.4%) patients were evaluable for PD-L1 expression by IHC. The frequency of tumor PD-L1 positivity (PD-L1+) was 16.5% (65/393). Among anatomic tumor sites PD-L1+ was 28.6% in melanoma, 22.2% in GC, 20.9% in CRC, 12.5% in BTC, 7.1% in GU cancer, 6.7% in HCC, 0% in pancreatic cancer and 0% in sarcoma. Among the 394 evaluable for MLH1/MSH2 expression cases, 18 patients (4.5%) had dMMR tumors. The dMMR was most common in GC (7.1%) followed by 6.7% in HCC, 4.4% in CRC, and 2.7% in sarcoma. Of the 365 patients evaluable for both PD-L1 and MLH1/MSH2 expression, there was a significant association between the PD-L1 expression and MLH1/MSH2 loss (P = 0.01), but not with overall survival within tumor types. PD-L1 status and dMMR are overlapping putative response biomarkers in immunoncology. Clinical trials with biomarker enrichment restricted to PD-L1+ or dMMR may be inadequate to capture the subset of patients who may benefit from immune mediated therapies. More robust immunotherapy biomarkers and careful clinical trial design are warranted.

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