Research Papers:

PDL1 expression in inflammatory breast cancer is frequent and predicts for the pathological response to chemotherapy

François Bertucci _, Pascal Finetti, Cécile Colpaert, Emilie Mamessier, Maxime Parizel, Luc Dirix, Patrice Viens, Daniel Birnbaum and Steven Van Laere

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:13506-13519. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3642

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François Bertucci1,2,3, Pascal Finetti1, Cécile Colpaert4, Emilie Mamessier1, Maxime Parizel4, Luc Dirix5, Patrice Viens1,2,3, Daniel Birnbaum1, Steven van Laere5

1Département d’Oncologie Moléculaire, “Equipe Labellisée Ligue Contre le Cancer”, Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie de Marseille (CRCM), Institut Paoli-Calmettes, INSERM UMR1068, CNRS UMR725, Marseille, France

2Département d’Oncologie Médicale, CRCM, Institut Paoli-Calmettes, Marseille, France

3Faculté de Médecine, Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France

4Department of Pathology, GZA Hospitals Sint-Augustinus, Antwerp, Belgium

5Center for Oncological Research (CORE), Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp, Antwerp Belgium

Correspondence to:

François Bertucci, e-mail: bertuccif@ipc.unicancer.fr

Keywords: chemotherapy, inflammatory breast cancer, immune response, PDL1, survival

Received: January 23, 2015     Accepted: March 23, 2015     Published: April 11, 2015


We retrospectively analyzed PDL1 mRNA expression in 306 breast cancer samples, including 112 samples of an aggressive form, inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). PDL1 expression was heterogeneous, but was higher in IBC than in non-IBC. Compared to normal breast samples, PDL1 was overexpressed in 38% of IBC. In IBC, PDL1 overexpression was associated with estrogen receptor-negative status, basal and ERBB2-enriched aggressive subtypes, and clinico-biological signs of anti-tumor T-cell cytotoxic response. PDL1 overexpression was associated with better pathological response to chemotherapy, independently of histo-clinical variables and predictive gene expression signatures. No correlation was found with metastasis-free and overall specific survivals. In conclusion, PDL1 overexpression in IBC correlated with better response to chemotherapy. This seemingly counterintuitive correlation between expression of an immunosuppressive molecule and improved therapeutic response may be resolved if PDL1 expression is viewed as a surrogate marker of a strong antitumor immune response among patients treated with immunogenic chemotherapy. In such patients, PDL1 inhibition could protect activated T-cells or reactivate inhibited T-cells and improve the therapeutic response, notably when associated with immunogenic chemotherapy.

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