LAG3 is an independent prognostic biomarker and potential target for immune checkpoint inhibitors in malignant pleural mesothelioma: a retrospective study

BMC Cancer 2023 December 7 [Link]

Ken Arimura, Kenzo Hiroshima, Yoji Nagashima, Tadao Nakazawa, Akira Ogihara, Mami Orimo, Yasuto Sato, Hideki Katsura, Masato Kanzaki, Mitsuko Kondo, Etsuko Tagaya


Background: Lymphocyte-activation gene 3 (LAG3) is an immune checkpoint receptor; novel LAG3 immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) exhibit therapeutic activity in melanoma. The role of LAG3and ICIs of LAG3 are unknown in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). This study aimed to uncover the prognostic landscape of LAG3 in multiple cancers and investigate the potential of using LAG3 as an ICIs target in patients with MPM.

Methods: We used The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) cohort for assessing mRNA expression and our cohort for immunohistochemical expression. TCGA cohort were analyzed using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test to compare mRNA expression between normal and tumor tissues in multiple cancers. We used 86 MPM cases from TCGA and 38 MPM cases from our cohort to analyze the expression of LAG3 in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. The mean LAG3 mRNA expression was set as the cut-off and samples were classified as positive/negative for immunohistochemical expression. Overall survival (OS) of patients with MPM was determined using the Kaplan-Meier method based on LAG3 mRNA and immunohistochemical expression. OS analysis was performed using the multivariate Cox proportional hazards model. The correlation of LAG3 expression and mRNA expression of tumor immune infiltration cells (TIICs) gene markers were estimated using Spearman correlation. To identify factors affecting the correlation of LAG3 mRNA expression, a multivariate linear regression model was performed.

Results: LAG3 mRNA was associated with prognosis in multiple cancers. Elevated LAG3 mRNA expression was correlated with a better prognosis in MPM. LAG3 expression was detected immunohistochemically in the membrane of infiltrating lymphocytes in MPM. LAG3 immunohistochemical expression was correlated with a better prognosis in MPM. The multivariate Cox proportional hazards model revealed that elevated LAG3 immunohistochemical expression indicated a better prognosis. In addition, LAG3 mRNA expression was correlated with the expression of various gene markers of TIICs, the most relevant to programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) with the multivariate linear regression model in MPM.

Conclusions: LAG3 expression was correlated with prognosis in multiple cancers, particularly MPM; LAG3 is an independent prognostic biomarker of MPM. LAG3 regulates cancer immunity and is a potential target for ICIs therapy. PD-1 and LAG3 inhibitors may contribute to a better prognosis in MPM.

Trial registration: This study was registered with UMIN000049240 (registration day: August 19, 2022) and approved by the Institutional Review Board (approval date: August 22, 2022; approval number: 2022-0048) at Tokyo Women’s Medical University.