PD-L1 expression in urothelial bladder cancer varies more among specimen types than between companion assays.

Urothelial bladder cancer (UBC) patients ineligible to platinum-based chemotherapy can be treated with immune-checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) in Programmed Death Ligand 1 (PD-L1) positive cases. Although concordance exists between different PD-L1 assays, little is known on PD-L1 expression variability in matched UBC samples. We compared PD-L1 expression in whole slides of matched transurethral resections (TURBT), radical cystectomies (RC), and lymph node metastasis (LN). Immunohistochemistry using the VENTANA PD-L1 (SP263) assay was performed on 115 patients and scored positive if expression occurred in ≥25% immune cells (IC), ≥25% tumour cells (TC), or both. PD-L1 was positive in 42.7% TURBT, 39.8% RC, and 27.3% LN specimens. Concordance was moderate (κ=0.52; P<0.001) between TURBT and RC, and fair between LN and TURBT (κ=0.31; P=0.048) or RC (κ=0.25; P=0.075). Comparison with the VENTANA PD-L1 (SP142) assay which had been performed previously on the same cohort showed moderate to substantial inter-assay agreement (κ=0.42-0.66). Although TC staining is not part of the SP142 scoring algorithm, discordant PD-L1 assay outcome could be attributed to SP263 TC≥25% staining in only 41% of cases. These results show that PD-L1 expression variability between matched specimens is higher than that between individual assays. Optimal specimen determination for PD-L1 testing needs to be addressed in future studies.

Virchows Archiv : an international journal of pathology. 2021 Apr 28 [Epub ahead of print]

Joep J de Jong, Hans Stoop, Joost L Boormans, Geert J L H van Leenders

Department of Urology, Erasmus MC University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. ., Department of Pathology, Erasmus MC University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands., Department of Urology, Erasmus MC University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.