Background: Tumor immune microenvironment (TME) plays a key role in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) pathogenesis and treatment outcome, supporting a role of immune checkpoint inhibitors as anticancer approach. This study retrospectively investigated TME and programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression in naïve MPM cases and their change under chemotherapy.
Patients and methods: Diagnostic biopsies of MPM patients were collected from four Italian and one Slovenian cancer centers. Pathological assessment of necrosis, inflammation, grading, and mitosis was carried out. Ki-67, PD-L1 expression, and tumor infiltrating lymphocytes were detected by immunohistochemistry. When available, the same paired sample after chemotherapy was analyzed. Pathological features and clinical characteristics were correlated to overall survival.
Results: TME and PD-L1 expression were assessed in 93 and 65 chemonaive MPM samples, respectively. Twenty-eight samples have not sufficient tumor tissue for PD-L1 expression. Sarcomatoid/biphasic samples were characterized by higher CD8+ T lymphocytes and PD-L1 expression on tumor cells, while epithelioid showed higher peritumoral CD4+ T and CD20+ B lymphocytes. Higher CD8+ T lymphocytes, CD68+ macrophages, and PD-L1 expression were associated with pathological features of aggressiveness (necrosis, grading, Ki-67). MPM cases characterized by higher CD8+ T-infiltrate showed lower response to chemotherapy and worse survival at univariate analysis. Patients stratification according to a combined score including CD8+ T lymphocytes, necrosis, mitosis, and proliferation index showed median overall survival of 11.3 months compared with 16.4 months in cases with high versus low combined score (P < 0.003). Subgroup exploratory analysis of 15 paired samples before and after chemotherapy showed a significant increase in cytotoxic T lymphocytes in MPM samples and PD-L1 expression in immune cells.
Conclusions: TME enriched with cytotoxic T lymphocytes is associated with higher levels of macrophages and PD-L1 expression on tumor cells and with aggressive histopathological features, lower response to chemotherapy and shorter survival. The role of chemotherapy as a tumor immunogenicity inducer should be confirmed in a larger validation set.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Annals of oncology : official journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology|
|Publication status||Published - May 1 2018|