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The interaction of the programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) receptor on tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes with programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) on tumor cells downregulates anti-tumor immunity. This study evaluated associations between PD-1 and PD-L1 expression in primary breast cancer, clinical characteristics, and patient outcomes. Microarray data from the Investigation of Serial Studies to predict your therapeutic response with imaging and molecular analysis (I-SPY 1) study (n = 149) was used to evaluate PD-1 and PD-L1 expression. Associations with clinical features and chemotherapy response were determined using Kruskal-Wallis and Wilcoxon rank sum tests, respectively. Recurrence-free survival (RFS) associations were determined with the Cox proportional hazard model. Associations of PD-1 and PD-L1 and selected genes associated with breast cancer, as well as a predictor of olaparib response (PARPi-7), were determined in I-SPY 1 and 2 other datasets: METABRIC (n = 1992) and TCGA (n = 817), using Pearson correlations. In I-SPY 1, PD-1 expression was higher in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and HER2 + breast cancer (p = 0.003), and grade 2/3 tumors (p = 0.043), and was associated with pathologic complete response (p = 0.006). PD-L1 expression in the lowest quintile was associated with worse RFS, even after subtype adjustment (HR 2.33, p = 0.01). PD-1 and PD-L1 gene expression correlated with the expression of immune-related genes and PARPi-7. PD-1 expression is higher in breast cancers with aggressive features such as TNBC. Low PD-L1 expression may be an adverse prognostic factor. PD-1 and PD-L1 gene expression correlates with the expression of immune-related and DNA damage repair genes.


Neelima Vidula, Christina Yau, Hope S Rugo. Programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) receptor and programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) gene expression in primary breast cancer. Breast cancer research and treatment. 2021 Apr 28

PMID: 33913053

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