Published online Apr 14, 2019. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v25.i14.1684
Peer-review started: January 31, 2019
First decision: February 26, 2019
Revised: March 5, 2019
Accepted: March 16, 2019
Article in press: March 16, 2019
Published online: April 14, 2019
Recently, more and more studies have demonstrated the pivotal role of programmed death 1/programmed death ligand 1 (PD-1/PD-L1) pathway in the immune evasion of tumors from the host immune system. However, the role of PD-1/PD-L1 pathway in gastric neuroendocrine carcinomas (G-NECs) remains unknown.
To investigate the expression of PD-1/PD-L1 and role of PD-1/PD-L1 pathway in G-NECs, which occur rarely but are highly malignant and clinically defiant.
We investigated the expression of PD-L1 on tumor cells and PD-1+, CD8+, and FOXP3+ T cell infiltration by immunohistochemistry in 43 resected G-NEC tissue specimens. The copy number alterations of PD-L1 were assessed by qRT-PCR.
Most of the G-NECs tumor cells exhibited a near-uniform expression pattern of PD-L1, while some showed a tumor-stromal interface enhanced pattern. Of the 43 G-NECs, 21 (48.8%) were classified as a high PD-L1 expression group, and the high expression of PD-L1 was associated with poor overall survival (OS). The high expression of PD-L1 was correlated with abundant PD-1+ tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) instead of CD8+ TILs and FOXP3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs). Our analysis also suggested that the infiltration of CD8+ TILs tended to be a favorable factor for OS, although the difference did not reach the statistical significance (P = 0.065). Meanwhile, PD-L1 was significantly overexpressed in cases with copy number gain as compared with those without.
Our data demonstrated for the first time that high expression of PD-L1 in G-NECs is associated with a poor prognosis, while the high expression may be due to the copy number variation of PD-L1 gene or stimulation of TILs. These results provide a basis for the immunotherapy targeting PD-1/PD-L1 pathway in G-NECs.
Core tip: This study for the first time demonstrated that programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) can be expressed by gastric neuroendocrine carcinoma (G-NEC) cancer cells and the high PD-L1 expression was associated with a poor prognosis. And the high expression of PD-L1 may be due to the copy number variation of PD-L1 gene or stimulation of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes. These findings provide important implications for the potential use of antibody therapies targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 signaling pathway in G-NECs.