Expression of Programmed Cell Death-Ligands in Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Correlation With Immune Microenvironment and Survival Outcomes.
ABSTRACT: The quantity of programmed cell death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) is regarded as a predicting factor of clinical response to anti-PD-1 axis immunotherapy. However, the expression of PD-L1 and its prognostic value in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients remain debated. Meanwhile, the molecular features of PD-1's other ligand, namely PD-L2, as well as its correlation with clinicopathological parameters and HCC tumor microenvironment (TME), are still poorly understood. In this study, immunohistochemistry (IHC) data from 304 HCC patients were used to determine the clinicopathological features of PD-L1 and PD-L2 and their correlation with CD8+ T cells in HCC. Moreover, fresh clinical HCC samples were used to identify the immune cell subtypes expressing PD-L1 and PD-L2. By using The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) dataset, we further assessed the correlation between mutation signature, copy number variation (CNV), number of neoepitopes, immune gene expression, immune/stromal cell infiltration to the expression of PD-L1 and PD-L2. While membrane expression of PD-L2 was observed in 19.1% of tumor samples, no obvious expression of PD-L1 was detected on tumor cell membranes. High expression of PD-L2 on tumor membranes and PD-L1 in immune stroma were both significantly associated with poorer overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) outcomes. Flow cytometry analysis and immunofluorescence showed that macrophages were the main immune cell subtype expressing both PD-L1 and PD-L2. Moreover, positive expression of PD-Ls was correlated with higher CD8+ T cells infiltration in immune stroma. CNV analysis showed a similarity between PD-L1 and PD-L2 in affecting gene expression. In addition, higher levels of PD-Ls correlated with higher expression of immune related genes, enhanced cytolytic activity, and larger proportions of immune/stromal cell infiltration. Collectively, our study reveals the impact of both PD-L1 and PD-L2 on the HCC tumor microenvironment for the first time, providing insight for new therapeutic options.
Project description:Background: The remarkable clinical activity of PD-1 antibody in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) highlights the importance of PD-1/PD-L1-mediated immune escape as therapeutic target in HCC. However, the frequency and prognostic significance of PD-Ls genetic alterations in HCC remain unknown. Methods: Fluorescence in situ hybridization were used to determine PD-Ls genetic alterations, and qPCR data coupled with immunofluorescence were used to measure the mRNA and protein levels of PD-Ls. Clinical relevance and prognostic value of 9p24.1 genetic alterations were investigated on tissue microarray containing three independent cohorts of 578 HCC patients. The results were further validated in an independent cohort of 442 HCC patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database. Results: In total, 7.1%-15.0% for amplification and 15.8%-31.3% for polysomy of 9p24.1 were revealed in three cohorts of HCC patients, similar to the objective response rate of PD-1 antibody in HCC. Patients with 9p24.1 genetic alterations significantly and independently correlated with unfavorable outcomes than those without. FISH and qPCR data coupled with immunofluorescence revealed that genetic alterations of 9p24.1 robustly contributed to PD-L1 and PD-L2 upregulation. In addition, increased expression of PD-L1 instead of PD-L2 also predicted poor survival by multivariate analyses. Meanwhile, high infiltration of PD-1+ immune cells also indicated dismal survival in HCC. Conclusions: Amplification or higher expression of PD-L1 significantly and independently correlated with unfavorable survival in HCC patients, authenticating the PD-1/PD-L1 axis as rational immunotherapeutic targets for HCC.
Project description:Therapeutic blockade of PD-1/PD-L1 can have dramatic therapeutic benefit in some patients; however, the prognostic associations of PD-1 and its ligands, in the absence of therapeutic blockade have not been definitively addressed. In particular, associations of PD-L2 with immune infiltrates and with outcome have yet to be explored. We hypothesized that surface expression of both PD-L1 and PD-L2 by melanoma cells would be associated with immune cell infiltration and with overall patient survival, independent of checkpoint blockade therapy. We also characterized the heterogeneity of their distribution within a tumor and within tumors of the same patient. Tissue microarrays of metastatic melanoma samples from 147 patients were quantified for CD8+, CD45, CD4+, CD3, CD163, CD20, CD138, FoxP3, PD-1, PD-L1 and PD-L2 markers by immunohistochemistry. Relationships between the proportions of PD-L1 and PD-L2 expressing tumor cells with the immune cell count, distribution (immunotype) and patient survival were studied. Expressions of both PD-L1 and PD-L2 correlated significantly with increasing densities of immune cells in the tumor specimens and with immunotype. Positive PD-L2 expression was associated with improved overall survival and the simultaneous positive expression of both PD-1 ligands showed a higher association with survival. Significant heterogeneity of PD-L1 and PD-L2 expressions within tumors were observed, however, they were less pronounced with PD-L2. In conclusion, both are markers of immune infiltration and PD-L2, alone or in combination with PD-L1, is a marker for prognosis in metastatic melanoma patients. Larger tumor samples yield more reliable assessments of PD-L1/L2 expression.
Project description:Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) causes several cancers such as Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and primary effusion lymphoma (PEL). PD-1/PD-Ls immune checkpoint molecules play important roles in cancer cell immune escape. The expression of PD-1/PD-Ls and their regulation by oncogenic viruses, in particular KSHV, remain largely undefined. Here we demonstrate strong PD-1/PD-L1/PD-L2 expression in KS tissues from a cohort of HIV + patients. We found that induction of KSHV lytic reactivation significantly upregulates PD-L1 expression on infected tumor cells, potentially through several major cellular signaling pathways and IL-1?, which may represent a novel mechanism for virus-associated tumor cell immune escape.
Project description:Mechanisms of dysfunctional T cell immunity in Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) need to be well defined. B7 family molecules provide both co-stimulatory and co-inhibitory signals to T cells while tryptophan degrading enzymes like Indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase (IDO) and Tryptophan 2,3 Dioxygenase (TDO) mediate tumor immune tolerance. It is necessary to identify their in situ correlative expression, which informs targets for combined immunotherapy approaches. We investigated B7 family molecules, IDO, TDO and immune responsive effectors in the tumor tissues of patients with HCC (n = 28) using a pathway-focused quantitative nanoscale chip real-time PCR. Four best correlative expressions, namely (1) B7-1 & PD-L2, (2) B7-H2 & B7-H3, (3) B7-2 & PD-L1, (4) PD-L1 & PD-L2, were identified among B7 family ligands, albeit they express at different levels. Although TDO expression is higher than IDO, PD-L1 correlates only with IDO but not TDO. Immune effector (Granzyme B) and suppressive (PD-1 and TGF-?) genes correlate with IDO and B7-1, B7-H5, PD-L2. Identification of the in situ correlation of PD-L1, PD-L2 and IDO suggest their cumulative immuno suppressive role in HCC. The distinct correlations among B7-1, B7-2, B7-H2, and B7-H3, correlation of PD-1 with non-cognate ligands such as B7-1 and B7-H5, and correlation of tumor lytic enzyme Granzyme B with IDO and PD-L2 suggest that HCC microenvironment is complexly orchestrated with both stimulatory and inhibitory molecules which together neutralize and blunt anti-HCC immunity. Functional assays demonstrate that both PDL-1 and IDO synergistically inhibit T cell responses. Altogether, the present data suggest the usage of combined immune checkpoint blocking strategies targeting co-inhibitory B7 molecules and IDO for HCC management.
Project description:We report the immunological profile of a patient with upper-tract urothelial carcinoma experiencing stable disease on pembrolizumab for 20 months. The tumor exhibited extensive infiltration by CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes, low-to-moderate mutational burden, no PD-L1 staining by commercially available immunohistochemical assays, but amplification of CD274 (coding for PD-L1) and/or PDCD1LG2 (encoding PD-L2) by fluorescence in situ hybridization. RNA-seq revealed multiple biomarkers of an ongoing immune response and compensatory immune evasion, including moderate PD-L1 levels coupled with robust PD-L2 expression. Pending validation in additional patients, these findings suggest that PD-L2 expression levels may constitute a biomarker of response to immune checkpoint blockade in urothelial carcinoma.
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a prototype of inflammation-related cancer, harboring M1-like and M2-like tumor-associated macrophages. M1 macrophages are thought to be tumoricidal, but some studies report its pro-tumor role. The programmed cell death-ligand (PD-L) 1 expressed in HCC cells is a critical checkpoint molecule to mediate immune escape of HCC. The PD-L1 expression in HCC cells is inducible. In the present study, we ask whether M1 macrophages induce the expression of PD-L1 in HCC cells. First, an association between M1 macrophage infiltration and PD-L1 expression in HCC tissues was determined by bioinformatics and immunohistochemistry experiments. The enrichment score of M1 macrophages was correlated to PD-L1 expression in 90 HCC samples from GEO database. Besides, infiltration of CD68+HLA-DR+ M1-like macrophages correlated with PD-L1 expression level in HCC cells. Moreover, M1-conditioned media was prepared from M1 macrophages derived from THP-1 cell, RAW264.7 cell or murine bone marrow. These supernatants induced expression of PD-L1 in HCC cells. Furthermore, inflammatory cytokine IL-1? in the supernatants was identified to account for the inducible PD-L1 expression by siRNA assay and receptor blockade assay. Additionally, transcription factor p65 and IRF1 in the HCC cells were revealed by CHIP assay to mediate the inducible PD-L1 expression. All the results demonstrate that M1 macrophages induced expression of PD-L1 in HCC cells, supporting the pro-tumor role of M1 macrophages.
Project description:Anti-programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) antibodies has been approved to treat HCC. Some PD-1 ligands (PD-L1 and PD-L2) negative tumors respond to treatment of anti-PD-1 antibodies, and this fact may be caused by the expression of PD-1 ligands on non-tumor cells. PD-L1 was recently found to be expressed on CD14+ cells from cancer patients. We investigate PD-1 ligands expression on CD14+ cells of patients with HCC and the role of CD14+ cells in an antitumor response. In this study, 87 patients diagnosed with HCC were enrolled. CD14+ cells from patients with HCC expressed PD-L1 (4.5-95.5%) and PD-L2 (0.2-95.0%). According to cut-off values, we classified patients as those either with PD-L1+PD-L2+CD14+ cells or other types of CD14+ cells. The overall survival of patients with PD-L1+PD-L2+CD14+ cells was shorter than that of patients with other types of CD14+ cells (p?=?0.0023). PD-L1+PD-L2+CD14+ cells produced IL-10 and CCL1, and showed little tumoricidal activity against HepG2 cells. The tumoricidal activity of CD8+ cells from patients with PD-L1+PD-L2+CD14+ cells were suppressed by co-cultivation with CD14+ cells from the syngeneic patient. Furthermore, anti-PD-1 antibody restored their tumoricidal activity of CD8+ cells. In conclusion, some patients with HCC have PD-L1+PD-L2+CD14+ cells that suppress their antitumor response. These inhibitory functions of CD14+ cells may be associated with a poor prognosis in these patients.
Project description:Programmed cell death-ligand 2 (PD-L2) is one of the two ligands of the programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) receptor, an inhibitory protein mainly expressed on activated immune cells that is targeted in the clinic, with successful and remarkable results. The PD-1/PD-Ls axis was shown to be one of the most relevant immunosuppressive pathways in the immune microenvironment, and blocking this interaction gave rise to an impressive clinical benefit in a broad variety of solid and hematological malignancies. Although PD-L2 has been historically considered a minor ligand, it binds to PD-1 with a two- to six-fold higher affinity as compared to PD-L1. PD-L2 can be expressed by immune, stromal, or tumor cells. The aims of this narrative review are to summarize PD-L2 biology in the physiological responses of the immune system and its role, expression, and clinical significance in cancer.
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fastest growing cause of cancer?related deaths globally. Epithelial?to?mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a cellular process that confers HCC tumor cells with the ability to evade the immune system. Immune escape in most tumors, including HCC, is controlled by immune checkpoint molecules. The aim of the present study was to investigate the association between EMT and immune checkpoint in HCC, and identify novel therapeutic targets for HCC. An in vitro model of reversible EMT was utilized based on cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF)?? treatment of HCC cell lines Hep3B and PLC/PRF/5. Hep3B and PLC/PRF/5 cells were treated with TNF??, and the EMT status and the expression of immune checkpoint molecules was assessed by reverse transcription?quantitative PCR, western blotting and immunofluorescence. To confirm an association between EMT and immune modulators, cells were exposed to culture medium with TNF?? for 3 days to induce EMT, following which a reversal assay was performed. The expression of immune modulators and mesenchymal?to?epithelial transition (MET) status was investigated upon reversal of EMT. Furthermore, SurvExpress, a web?based platform was utilized to analyze survival and recurrence in a dataset of patients with HCC. TNF?? treatment for 3 days induced EMT in Hep3B and PLC/PRF/5 cells, as demonstrated by the downregulation of epithelial markers along with upregulation in mesenchymal markers. An EMT reversal assay was able to induce MET by increasing epithelial markers and decreasing mesenchymal markers. TNF???induced EMT led to the upregulation of immune modulators, including programmed death receptor ligand (PD?L)1, PD?L2, CD73 and B7?H3. In contrast, reversal of EMT suppressed the expression of PD?L1, PD?L2, CD73 and B7?H3. In addition, high expression of TNF?? and PD?L1 in 422 patients with HCC was associated with poor overall survival. The coordinate expression of TNF?? with PD?L2 in this patient cohort was associated with increased HCC recurrence. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated a close association between immune modulator expression and EMT induction/reversal driven by TNF??.