Journal of Thoracic Oncology 2017 February [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Thapa B, Salcedo A, Lin X, Walkiewicz M, Murone C, Ameratunga M, Asadi K, Deb S, Barnett SA, Knight S, Mitchell P, Watkins DN, Boutros PC, John T


Results of recent clinical studies of immune checkpoint inhibitors in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) have dampened initial enthusiasm. However, the immune environment and targets of these treatments such as program cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and its ligand PD-L1 have not been well characterised in MPM. Using a large cohort of patients, we investigated PD-L1 expression, immune infiltrates and genome-wide copy number status and correlated them to clinicopathological features.
Tissue microarrays were constructed and stained with PD-L1(clone E1L3N, CST),_Massachusetts, CD4, CD8 and FOXP3 antibodies. PD-L1 positivity was defined as ≥5% membranous staining regardless of intensity and PD-L1+hi as ≥50%. Genomic DNA from a representative subset of 113 patients was used for genome-wide copy number analysis. The percent genome alteration (PGA) was computed as a proxy for genomic instability, and statistical analyses were used to relate copy number aberrations (CNA) to other variables.
Amongst 329 patients evaluated, PD-L1+ was detected in 130/311 (41.7%), but PD-L1+hi was only seen in 30/311 (9.6%). PD-L1+ correlated with non-epithelioid histology and increased infiltration with CD4+, CD8+ and FOXP3+ lymphocytes. PD-L1+hi expression correlated with worse prognosis (HR = 2.37; 95%CI= 1.57-3.56; P < 0.001) on univariate analysis, but not in multivariate analysis. Higher PGA was associated with epithelioid histology and poorer survival (HR = 1.59; 95%CI= 1.01-2.5; P = 0.04), but not PD-L1 expression. CONCLUSION: PD-L1 expression was associated with non-epithelioid MPM, poor clinical outcome and increased immunological infiltrates. Increased genomic instability did not correlate with PD-L1 expression, but was associated with poorer survival.