Prognostic significance of pre- and post-treatment PD-L1 expression in patients with primary high-grade non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer treated with BCG immunotherapy.

Programmed cell death-1 ligand-1 (PD-L1) expression has been associated with prognostic implications in urologic malignancies. We aimed to investigate prognostic significance of pre- and post-treatment PD-L1 expression in patients treated with BCG for high-grade non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC).

We reviewed a total of 141 high-grade NMIBC cases treated with transurethral resection +  ≥ 6 BCG instillations between 2004 and 2017. PD-L1 immunohistochemistry (IHC) scoring was done on 0-3 scale, and cut-off for positive and high-level PD-L1 expression was set to ≥ 1% and ≥ 5% staining of tumor-infiltrating immune cells (IC), respectively. Clinicopathologic characteristics and oncologic outcomes [recurrence-free (RFS) and progression-free survival (PFS)] were compared, stratified by PD-L1 positivity. The prognostic role of PD-L1 was assessed using Kaplan-Meier, and univariate and multivariate Cox regression analyses.

Pre-treatment, 46.2% and 6.8% of high-grade NMIBC demonstrated positive and high-level PD-L1 expression, respectively. Positive PD-L1 expression was associated with submucosal invasion and refractory-tumor recurrence. PD-L1 expression was not associated with RFS or PFS in regression analysis. Post-treatment, 55.1% and 11.6% of recurrent tumors demonstrated positive and high-level PD-L1 expression, respectively. Down-regulation of PD-L1 expression was noted in patients with refractory recurrence (p = 0.012).

Pre-treatment PD-L1 expression was associated with unfavorable pathological features in primary high-grade NMIBC and its expression level after BCG immunotherapy was significantly decreased in patients with refractory recurrence. PD-L1 expression did not have prognostic value for PFS or RFS; therefore, further research is necessary to identify novel biomarkers for prediction of disease outcomes in high-grade NMIBC.

World journal of urology. 2020 Jan 03 [Epub ahead of print]

Ahmet Murat Aydin, Dilek E Baydar, Berk Hazir, Berrin Babaoglu, Cenk Y Bilen

Department of Urology, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey. ., Department of Pathology, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey., Department of Urology, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey., Department of Pathology, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey.

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