Chemotherapy treatment is associated with altered PD-L1 expression in lung cancer patients

Lívia Rojkó, Lilla Reiniger, Vanda Téglási, Katalin Fábián, Orsolya Pipek, Attila Vágvölgyi, László Agócs, János Fillinger, Zita Kajdácsi, József Tímár, Balázs Döme, Zoltán Szállási, Judit Moldvay*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Objectives: While the predictive value of programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1) protein expression for immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy of lung cancer has been extensively studied, the impact of standard platinum-based chemotherapy on PD-L1 or programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) expression is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the changes in PD-L1 expression of tumor cells (TC) and immune cells (IC), in PD-1 expression of IC, and in the amount of stromal mononuclear cell infiltration after platinum-based chemotherapy in patients with lung cancer. Materials and methods: We determined the amount of stromal mononuclear cells and PD-L1/PD-1 expressions by immunohistochemistry in bronchoscopic biopsy samples including 20 adenocarcinomas (ADC), 15 squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), 2 other types of non-small cell lung cancer, and 4 small cell lung cancers together with their corresponding surgical resection tissues after platinum-based chemotherapy. Results: PD-L1 expression of TC decreased in ten patients (24.4%) and increased in three patients (7.32%) after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (p = 0.051). The decrease in PD-L1 expression, however, was significant only in patients who received cisplatin–gemcitabine combination (p = 0.020), while in the carboplatin–paclitaxel group, no similar tendency could be observed (p = 0.432). There was no difference between ADC and SCC groups. Neither PD-1 expression nor the amount of stromal IC infiltration showed significant changes after chemotherapy. Conclusions: This is the first study, in which both PD-L1 and PD-1 expression were analyzed together with the amount of stromal IC infiltration in different histological subtypes of lung cancer before and after platinum-based chemotherapy. Our results confirm that chemotherapy decreases PD-L1 expression of TC in a subset of patients, therefore, rebiopsy and re-evaluation of PD-L1 expression may be necessary for the indication of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology
    Issue number7
    Pages (from-to)1219-1226
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Chemotherapy
    • Immunohistochemistry
    • Lung cancer
    • PD-1
    • PD-L1


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