PD-1 and PD-L1 as emerging therapeutic targets in gastric cancer: current evidence.
ABSTRACT: Gastric adenocarcinoma is a leading cause of global cancer-related morbidity and mortality, and new therapeutic approaches are needed. Despite the improved outcomes with monoclonal antibodies targeting human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2, durable responses are uncommon. Targeting immune checkpoints including PD-1, PD-L1 and CTLA-4 have led to improved survival across several tumor types, frequently characterized by prolonged benefit in responding patients. Tumoral and lymphocyte-derived immunohistochemical staining for PD-1, PD-L1, and tumor mutational burden have shown potential as predictive response biomarkers in several tumor types. Optimal incorporation of immune-mediated therapies into gastric cancer (GC) is an area of intense ongoing investigation and benefit has been demonstrated in smaller studies of advanced patients. Important questions of biomarker selection, roles for molecular characterization, optimal combinatorial approaches, and therapeutic sequencing remain. In this study, current data are reviewed for immune checkpoint inhibitors in GC, and putative biomarkers, ongoing trials, and future considerations are discussed.
Project description:While the prognosis of gastric cancer (GC) remains poor, PD-1 and PD-L1/L2 are promising prognostic biomarkers. We evaluated PD-1 and PD-L1/L2 expression in tumor cells (TCs) and tumor-infiltrating immune cells (TIICs). We determined the Helicobacter pylori (Hp) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection status in a GC cohort (n=340), then analyzed the relationship between the expression of PD-1, PD-L1/L2 and GC prognosis. We found that PD-1, PD-L1, and PD-L2 mRNA levels were up-regulated in GC tissues, and were positively correlated with one another (P=0.043, P=0.008 and P=0.035). PD-1 protein expression in TIICs was observed in 22.6% of GC patients. The PD-L1 and PD-L2 positivity rates were 40.3% and 53.8% in TCs, respectively, and 60.0% and 60.9% in TIICs, respectively. PD-L1 was up-regulated in EBV-infected GC patients in both TCs (P=0.009) and TIICs (P=0.003). Hp status was not associated with PD-1 or PD-L1/PD-L2 expression. In TIICs, PD-L1 expression was independently associated with better GC prognosis (HR=0.72, 95%CI: 0.53-0.99). Co-expression of PD-1 and PD-L1, but not PD-L2, was a favorable prognostic marker that indicated a dose effect on the mortality risk of GC patients (P-value for trend=0.005). Comprehensive evaluation of PD-1 and PD-L1 in TCs and TIICs could help predict the prognosis of gastric cancers, as well as reveal patients who might benefit from targeted treatment.
Project description:The PD-1 pathway, comprising the immune cell co-receptor Programmed Death 1 (PD-1) and its ligands, PD-L1 (B7-H1) and PD-L2 (B7-DC), mediates local immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment. Drugs designed to block PD-1 or PD-L1 "release the brakes" on anti-tumor immunity and have demonstrated clinical activity in several types of advanced cancers, validating this pathway as a target for cancer therapy. Two such drugs have recently been approved to treat melanoma and lung cancers, and regulatory approvals in first- and second-line settings for additional cancer types are anticipated. The manageable safety profile of PD-1/PD-L1 blocking drugs identifies them as suitable for outpatient administration and the development of combinatorial therapies. Ongoing studies aim to identify biomarkers to guide patient selection, which would further improve the risk:benefit ratio for these drugs.
Project description:Background:Immunotherapies targeting programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) and programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) have been approved for gastric cancer (GC) patients. However, a large proportion of patients with T-cell-inflamed tumor microenvironment do not respond to the PD-1/PD-L1 blockade. The stromal component of the tumor microenvironment has been associated with immunotherapy. This study aims to explore the clinical significance of the non-immune cells in the tumor microenvironment and their potential as biomarkers for immunotherapy. Methods:A total of 383 patients with GC from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) cohort, 300 patients with GC from the GSE62254 cohort in Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) were included in the study. A stromal score was generated using the ESTIMATE algorithm, and the likelihood of response to PD-1/PD-L1 immunotherapy of GC patients was predicted using the TIDE algorithm. The prognostic value of the stromal score from GC cases was evaluated by the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression analysis. Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) was also conducted. Results:The stromal score showed significant differences in different molecular subtypes and T stages. Multivariate analyses further confirmed that the stromal score was an independent indicator of overall survival (OS) in the two cohorts. The low stromal score group showed higher tumor mutation burden (TMB) and micro-satellite instability (MSI), and was more sensitive to immune checkpoint inhibitor according to the TIDE algorithm. Activation of the transforming growth factor and epithelial-mesenchymal transition were observed in the high stromal score subtype, which is associated with T-cell suppression, and may be responsible for resistance to PD-1/PD-L1 therapy. BPIFB2 was confirmed as a hub gene relevant to immunotherapy. Conclusion:The stromal score was associated with cancer progression and molecular subtypes, and may serve as a novel biomarker for predicting the prognosis and response to immunotherapy in patients with GC.
Project description:The expression of PD-L1 in tumor cells is one of the main causes of tumor immune escape. However, the exact mechanism for regulating PD-L1 expression in gastric cancer (GC) cells remains unclear. Our previous studies have shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) exert broad immunosuppressive potential, modulating the activity of cells either in innate or adaptive immune system to promote tumor progress. This study aims to investigate whether GCMSCs regulate the PD-L1 expression in GC cells and explore the specific molecular mechanism. The results have shown that GCMSCs enhanced PD-L1 expression in GC cells resulting in the resistance of GC cells to CD8+ T cells cytotoxicity. However, this resistance was attenuated with IL-8 inhibition. Further studies proved that IL-8 derived from GCMSCs induced PD-L1 expression in GC cells via c-Myc regulated by STAT3 and mTOR signaling pathways. Our data indicated that blocking IL-8 derived from GCMSCs may overcome the immune escape induced by PD-L1 in GC cells and provide a potential strategy to enhance the immunotherapy efficiency in GC.
Project description:Gastric cancer (GC) is a deadly disease with limited treatment options. Recent studies with PD-1 inhibition have shown promising results in GC, but key questions remain regarding which GC subclass may respond best. In other cancers, expression of the PD-1 ligand PD-L1 has been shown to identify cancers with greater likelihood of response to PD-1 blockade. We here show with immunohistochemistry that Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)+ GCs (n = 32) have robust PD-L1 expression not seen in other GCs. In EBV+ GC, we observed PD-L1 staining in tumor cells in 50% (16/32) and immune cells in 94% (30/32) of cases. Among EBV-negative GCs, PD-L1 expression within tumors cells was observed only in cases with microsatellite instability (MSI), although 35% of EBV-/MSS GCs possessed PD-L1 expression of inflammatory cells. Moreover, distinct classes of GC showed different patterns of PD-L1+ immune cell infiltrations. In both EBV+ and MSI tumors, PD-L1+ inflammatory cells were observed to infiltrate the tumor. By contrast, such cells remained at the tumor border of EBV-/MSS GCs. Consistent with these findings, we utilized gene expression profiling of GCs from The Cancer Genome Atlas study to demonstrate that an interferon-? driven gene signature, an additional proposed marker of sensitivity to PD-1 therapy, were enriched in EBV+ and MSI GC. These data suggest that patients with EBV+ and MSI GC may have greater likelihood of response to PD-1 blockade and that EBV and MSI status should be evaluated as variables in clinical trials of these emerging inhibitors.
Project description:The immunotherapy agent pembrolizumab has been approved for gastric cancer (GC) patients with recurrent or advanced disease who are PD-L1 positive. Mutations in the primary lesion may drive the expression of immune targets thereby priming the tumor to therapeutic sensitivity. In this study, we aimed to uncover mutations associated with elevated PD-L1 expression in GC patients. Data from 410 GC patients were available, including the mutational spectrum of 39,916 genes and expression values of 20,500 genes. PD-L1 gene expression was compared to the mutational status of each gene separately by using a Mann-Whitney U-test and a Receiver Operating Characteristic test. Only mutations with a prevalence over 5% were considered. Significance was accepted in cases of p < 1E-05 and a fold change over 1.44. Mutations in 209 genes were associated with increased PD-L1 expression. These mutations were enriched in genes related to microtubule-based movement (p = 3.4E-4), cell adhesion (p = 4.9E-4), response to DNA-damage (p = 6.9E-4), and double-strand break-repair (p = 1.6E-3). Mutations in TTK (p = 8.8E-10, AUC = 0.77), COL7A1 (p = 2.0E-9, AUC = 0.74), KIF15 (p = 2.5E-9, AUC = 0.75), and BDP1 (p = 3.3E-9, AUC = 0.74) had the strongest link to elevated PD-L1 expression. Finally, we established a decision tree based on mutations in PIK3CA, MEF2C, SLC11A1, and KIF15 capable to separate patient sub-cohorts with elevated PD-L1 expression. In summary, we identified mutations associated with elevated PD-L1 expression that facilitate the development of better prognostic biomarkers for GC, and might offer insight into the underlying tumor biology.
Project description:Targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoint signaling is a novel promising treatment strategy in several tumor entities, and it is suggested that PD-L1/PD-1 expression is predictive for a PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor treatment response. We investigated the expression of PD-L1 and PD-1 by immunohistochemistry in a large and well characterized gastric cancer (GC) cohort of Caucasian patients, consisting of 465 GC samples and 15 corresponding liver metastases. Staining results were correlated with clinico-pathological characteristics and survival. PD-L1 expression was found in tumor cells of 140 GCs (30.1%) and 9 liver metastases (60%) respectively in immune cells of 411 GCs (88.4%) and 11 liver metastases (73.3%). PD-1 was expressed in tumor infiltrating lymphocytes in 250 GCs (53.8%) and in 11 liver metastases (73.3%). PD-L1 expression was significantly more prevalent in men, GCs of the proximal stomach, unclassified, papillary, Her2/neu-positive, Epstein-Barr-virus-positive, microsatellite instable, and PIK3CA-mutated GCs. A high PD-L1/PD-1 expression was associated with a significantly better patient outcome, and PD-L1 turned out to be an independent survival prognosticator. The correlation of PD-L1/PD-1 expression with distinct clinico-pathological patient characteristics may serve as a surrogate marker of PD-L1-positive GCs and may direct the use of immune checkpoint treatment strategies.
Project description:<b>Rationale:</b> Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been the focus of many studies because of their abilities to modulate immune responses, angiogenesis, and promote tumor growth and metastasis. Our previous work showed that gastric cancer MSCs (GCMSCs) promoted immune escape by secreting of IL-8, which induced programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression in GC cells. Mounting evidence has revealed that PD-L1 expression is related to intrinsic tumor cell properties. Here, we investigated whether GCMSCs maintained a pool of cancer stem cells (CSCs) through PD-L1 signaling and the specific underlying molecular mechanism. <b>Methods:</b> Stem cell surface markers, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity, migration and sphere formation abilities were tested to evaluate the stemness of GC cells. PD-L1-expressing lentivirus and PD-L1 specific siRNA were used to analyze the effects of PD-L1 on GC cells stemness. Annexin V/PI double staining was used to assess apoptosis of GC cells induced by chemotherapy. Co-Immunoprecipitation (Co-IP) and Mass spectrometry were employed to determine the PD-L1 binding partner in GC cells. PD-L1<sup>Negative</sup> and PD-L1<sup>Positive</sup> cells were sorted by flow cytometry and used for limiting dilution assays to verify the effect of PD-L1 on tumorigenic ability in GC cells. <b>Results:</b> The results showed that GCMSCs enhanced the CSC-like properties of GC cells through PD-L1, which led to the resistance of GC cells to chemotherapy. PD-L1 associated with CTCF to contribute to the stemness and self-renewal of GC cells. <i>In vivo</i>, PD-L1<sup>Positive</sup> GC cells had greater stemness potential and tumorigenicity than PD-L1<sup>Negative</sup> GC cells. The results also indicated that GC cells were heterogeneous, and that PD-L1 in GC cells had different reactivity to GCMSCs. <b>Conclusions:</b> Overall, our data indicated that GCMSCs enriched CSC-like cells in GC cells, which gives a new insight into the mechanism of GCMSCs prompting GC progression and provides a potential combined therapeutic target.
Project description:Programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) plays an essential role in tumor cell escape from anti-tumor immunity in various types of cancer, including gastric cancer (GC). The present study investigated the intracellular and membrane-bound expression of PD-L1 in the GC cell lines MKN1, MKN74, KATO III and OCUM-1. Furthermore, soluble PD-L1 (sPD-L1) level in the supernatant of GC cells and the serum of patients with GC and healthy controls was determined by ELISA. Interferon (IFN)-? treatment of cells resulted in increased cytoplasmic expression of PD-L1 in GC cells in a dose-dependent manner, except for MKN74 cells; however, there was no association between tumor necrosis factor-? treatment and enhanced PD-L1 expression. Concordant with these findings, results from flow cytometry analysis demonstrated that membrane-bound PD-L1 expression was also increased following GC cell treatment with IFN-? in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, significant sPD-L1 overproduction was observed only in the culture supernatant of OCUM-1 cells. Serum level of sPD-L1 was significantly increased in patients with GC, in particular in stage IV patients, compared with healthy controls. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that IFN-? treatment increased the intracellular and membrane-bound PD-L1 expression in GC cells. In addition, sPD-L1 was detected not only in the supernatant of GC cells but also in the serum of patients with GC. Further investigation on the underlying mechanism of regulation of PD-L1 expression and sPD-L1 production is required.
Project description:Although circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have shown promise as potential biomarkers for diagnostic and prognostic assessment in gastric cancer (GC), determining the predictive and prognostic value of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1)-positive CTCs in patients with GC is a challenge. Here, we identified that the expression of total vimentin (VIM) protein was positively correlated with PD-L1 and inhibited CD8+ T-cell activation in patients with GC according to bioinformatics analysis. Notably, coexpression of PD-L1 and cell-surface VIM (CSV) was detected by immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry assay in locally advanced GC tumor specimens and metastatic lymph nodes. Likewise, CSV expression level was significantly decreased after transiently knocking down PD-L1 in GC cell lines. Based on our established CTC detection platform, CTCs were isolated from peripheral blood samples collected from 70 patients (38 resectable and 32 unresectable) with GC using magnetic positive selection and a CSV-specific monoclonal antibody, 84-1. CSV+ PD-L1+ CTCs were observed in 50 of 70 (71%) GC patient samples, ranging from 0 to 261 mL-1 . A higher number of CSV+ PD-L1+ CTCs were significantly associated with a short survival duration and poor therapeutic response. This study demonstrated that detection of PD-L1+ CTCs using a CSV-enrichment method has promising value as a clinically relevant prognostic marker for GC.