PD-L1 promoter methylation is a prognostic biomarker for biochemical recurrence-free survival in prostate cancer patients following radical prostatectomy

The rapid development of programmed death 1 (PD-1)/programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) inhibitors has generated an urgent need for biomarkers assisting the selection of patients eligible for therapy. The use of PD-L1 immunohistochemistry, which has been suggested as a predictive biomarker, however, is confounded by multiple unresolved issues. The aim of this study therefore was to quantify PD-L1 DNA methylation (mPD-L1) in prostate tissue samples and to evaluate its potential as a biomarker in prostate cancer (PCa).

In the training cohort, normal tissue showed significantly lower levels of mPD-L1 compared to tumor tissue. High mPD-L1 in PCa was associated with biochemical recurrence (BCR) in univariate Cox proportional hazards (hazard ratio (HR)=2.60 [95%CI: 1.50-4.51], p=0.001) and Kaplan-Meier analyses (p<0.001). These results were corroborated in an independent validation cohort in univariate Cox (HR=1.24 [95%CI: 1.08-1.43], p=0.002) and Kaplan-Meier analyses (p=0.029). Although mPD-L1 and PD-L1 protein expression did not correlate in the validation cohort, both parameters added significant prognostic information in bivariate Cox analysis (HR=1.22 [95%CI: 1.05-1.42], p=0.008 for mPD-L1 and HR=2.58 [95%CI: 1.43-4.63], p=0.002 for PD-L1 protein expression).

mPD-L1 was analyzed in a training cohort from The Cancer Genome Atlas (n=498) and was subsequently measured in an independent validation cohort (n=299) by quantitative methylation-specific real-time PCR. All patients had undergone radical prostatectomy.

mPD-L1 is a promising biomarker for the risk stratification of PCa patients and might offer additional relevant prognostic information to the implemented clinical parameters, particularly in the setting of immune checkpoint inhibition.

Oncotarget. 2016 Nov 07 [Epub ahead of print]

Heidrun Gevensleben, Emily Eva Holmes, Diane Goltz, Jörn Dietrich, Verena Sailer, Jörg Ellinger, Dimo Dietrich, Glen Kristiansen

Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Bonn, Bonn, Germany., Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Bonn, Bonn, Germany., Weill Cornell Medicine of Cornell University, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, New York, NY, USA., Department of Urology, University Hospital Bonn, Bonn, Germany.