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PLoS One. 2018 Jun 1;13(6):e0198634. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0198634. eCollection 2018.

Clinicopathological analysis and prognostic significance of programmed cell death-ligand 1 protein and mRNA expression in non-small cell lung cancer.

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Department of Pathology, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Republic of Korea.
Medical Research Collaborating Center, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Republic of Korea.
Department of Pathology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


In this study, we present the clinicopathological features associated with PD-L1 protein and mRNA expression in a large Asian cohort of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and assessed the prognostic implications of PD-L1 expression, particularly in early stage NSCLC. We retrospectively analyzed 687 NSCLC specimens (476 adenocarcinoma and 211 squamous cell carcinoma) using tissue microarray. PD-L1 immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed using Dako 22C3 pharmDx assay and PDL1 mRNA was measured using RNA in situ hybridization (RISH). The overall prevalence of PD-L1 protein expression was 25.2% in tumor cells and PDL1 mRNA expression was 11.9%. There was a strong positive correlation between PD-L1 IHC and RISH results (Spearman's rho = 0.6, p<0.001). In adenocarcinoma, PD-L1 protein and mRNA expressions significantly correlated with poorly differentiated histologic subtype (p<0.001 and p = 0.002, respectively). PD-L1 expression was also associated with genetic alteration in adenocarcinoma. High PD-L1 expression level was associated with EGFR-naïve and KRAS-mutant subgroup (p = 0.001 and p = 0.017, respectively). With a 1% cut-off value, PD-L1 protein expression showed a short overall survival duration in early stage adenocarcinoma with marginal significance (p = 0.05, Hazard ratio = 1.947). Our study revealed that PD-L1 expression varied with histologic subtype and genomic alteration status in lung adenocarcinoma, and activation of the PD-L1 pathway may be a poor prognostic factor especially in early stage lung adenocarcinoma. In addition, PDL1 RISH showed promising results in predicting PD-L1 protein expression in NSCLC.

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