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Mol Cancer Ther. 2018 Jun;17(6):1324-1331. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-17-1005. Epub 2018 Mar 27.

Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes and PD-L1 Expression in Pre- and Posttreatment Breast Cancers in the SWOG S0800 Phase II Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Trial.

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Yale School of Medicine, Pathology, New Haven, Connecticut.
SWOG Statistical Center, Seattle, Washington.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, El Paso, Texas.
Yale School of Medicine, Medical Oncology, New Haven, Connecticut.
University of Michigan, School of Medicine, Medical Oncology, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle, Washington.
Yale School of Medicine, Medical Oncology, New Haven, Connecticut.


Our aim was to examine the association of pretreatment tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) count and PD-L1 levels with pathologic complete response (pCR) and assess immune marker changes following treatment in tumor specimens from the S0800 clinical trial, which randomized patients to bevacizumab + nab-paclitaxel, followed by doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide (AC) versus two control arms without bevacizumab (varying sequence of AC and nab-paclitaxel). TILs were assessed in 124 pre- and 62 posttreatment tissues (including 59 pairs). PD-L1 was assessed in 120 pre- and 43 posttreatment tissues (including 39 pairs) using the 22C3 antibody. Baseline and treatment-induced immune changes were correlated with pCR and survival using estrogen receptor (ER) and treatment-adjusted logistic and Cox regressions, respectively. At baseline, the mean TIL count was 17.4% (17% had zero TILs, 9% had ≥50% TILs). Posttreatment, mean TIL count decreased to 11% (5% had no TILs, 2% had >50% TILs). In paired samples, the mean TIL change was 15% decrease. Baseline PD-L1 was detected in 43% of cases (n = 5 in tumor cells, n = 29 stroma, n = 18 tumor + stroma). Posttreatment, PD-L1 expression was not significantly lower (33%). Higher baseline TIL count and PD-L1 positivity rate were associated with higher pCR rate even after adjustment for treatment and ER status (P = 0.018). There was no association between TIL counts, PD-L1 expression, and survival due to few events. In conclusion, TIL counts, but not PD-L1 expression, decreased significantly after treatment. Continued PD-L1 expression in some residual cancers raises the possibility that adjuvant immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy could improve survival in this patient population. Mol Cancer Ther; 17(6); 1324-31. ©2018 AACR.

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