Prognostic impacts of tumoral expression and serum levels of PD-L1 and CTLA-4 in colorectal cancer patients

Colorectal Cancer

Omura Y, et al. Cancer Immunol Immunother 2020.


BACKGROUND: Programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1) and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) play a pivotal role in cancer immunotherapy. Each of these molecules has a membrane-bound receptor form (mPD-L1/mCTLA-4) and a soluble form (sPD-L1/sCTLA-4). However, these prognostic impacts in colorectal cancer (CRC) remain unclear.

METHODS: We immunohistochemically scored tumoral mPD-L1/mCTLA-4 expression and quantified preoperative circulating sPD-L1/sCTLA-4 levels using matched serum specimens from 131 patients with pStage I-III CRC. We also examined the association between these statuses and tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in these patients.

RESULTS: Elevated levels of mPD-L1, mCTLA-4, sPD-L1 and sCTLA-4 were significantly correlated with poor overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS). Co-high expression of tumoral mPD-L1 and mCTLA-4 or co-elevated levels of serum sPD-L1 and sCTLA-4 were strongly correlated with poor OS and DFS. Multivariate analysis revealed that both statuses were negative independent prognostic factors for OS [hazard ratio (HR) 3.86, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.71-8.51, p = 0.001; HR 5.72, 95% CI 1.87-14.54, p = 0.004, respectively] and DFS (HR 2.53, 95% CI 1.23-4.95, p = 0.01; HR 6.88, 95% CI 2.42-17.13, p = 0.0008, respectively). Although low expression of tumoral mCTLA-4 was significantly correlated with increased CD8(+) TILs, there was no correlation in any other combination.

CONCLUSIONS: We verified the prognostic impacts of mPD-L1, mCTLA-4, sPD-L1 and sCTLA-4 in pStage I-III CRC patients. Dual evaluation of immune checkpoint molecules in primary tissues or preoperative serum could identify a patient population with poor prognosis in these patients.