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Modern pathology : an official journal of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, Inc

Overexpression and gene amplification of PD-L1 in cancer cells and PD-L1(+) immune cells in Epstein-Barr virus-associated gastric cancer: the prognostic implications.


PMID 27934877

Abstract

Cancer cells use PD-L1 to evade antitumor immunity through interaction with programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) on T cells. Recent whole-genome sequence studies revealed frequent gene amplification of PD-L1 in Epstein-Barr virus-associated gastric cancer (EBVaGC). To investigate the significance of PD-L1 in cancer cells and their microenvironment in EBVaGC, we studied PD-L1 expression by analysis of the public database and immunohistochemistry with fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) of the PD-L1 gene. Analysis of the database from The Cancer Genome Atlas also disclosed high expression of PD-L1 in EBVaGC compared with other molecular subtypes of GC. Expression of PD-L1 was frequently detected in cancer cells of EBVaGC (33/96; 34%), with infiltration of PD-L1(+) immune cells in its stroma (43/96; 45%). Both expression of PD-L1 in cancer cells and PD-L1(+) immune cell infiltration in EBVaGC were significantly correlated with diffuse histology according to Lauren's classification and tumor invasion (pT1b or more). As a prognostic indicator, PD-L1 expression in cancer cells correlated with poor outcomes in both overall survival and disease-specific survival (P=0.0498, 0.007). PD-L1-positive cancers had dense infiltration of PD-L1(+) immune cells as well as CD8(+) and PD-1(+) cells in EBVaGC. FISH analysis of representative samples of the tumor demonstrated gene amplification of PD-L1 in 11% of cases. PD-L1-amplified cells corresponded to PD-L1-positive cells showing high-intensity immunohistochemical staining among cancer cells showing weak or moderate intensities. Taken together, PD-L1 expression in cancer cells and their microenvironment may contribute to the progression of EBVaGC, and gene amplification occurs as clonal evolution during progression. This specific subtype of GC infected with EBV is potentially a good candidate for immunotherapy targeting of the PD-L1/PD-1 axis.