Association of tumour and stroma PD-1, PD-L1, CD3, CD4 and CD8 expression with DCB and OS to nivolumab treatment in NSCLC patients pre-treated with chemotherapy

Anna Larissa Nadia Niemeijer, Sara Sahba, Egbert Frederik Smit, Birgit Ilja Lissenberg-Witte, Adrianus Johannes de Langen, Erik Thunnissen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Immune checkpoint inhibitors are most beneficial in patients with high tumour PD-L1 expression. However, the use of PD-L1 expression is not straightforward. We investigated PD-L1 expression and immune cell (IC) infiltrates in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients treated with nivolumab. Methods: Tumour tissue specimens of 139 NSCLC patients were scored for tumour/stromal PD-L1 and various IC expression markers, and associated with durable clinical benefit (DCB) and overall survival (OS). Results: Median OS was higher for patients with high stromal infiltration of CD8+ ICs (9.0 months) compared with patients with low and intermediate infiltration (both 5.0 months, p = 0.035) and for patients with high infiltration of stromal CD4+ ICs (9.0 months) compared with patients with low and intermediate infiltration (both 5.0 months, p = 0.010) and this was confirmed in the validation cohort. Post hoc analyses showed that biopsies taken after the last line of chemotherapy (ACT) were predictive for DCB and OS, whereas samples obtained before the last line of chemotherapy (BCT) were not. Conclusions: Stromal infiltration of ICs can predict response to PD-1-directed immunotherapy in NSCLC patients. Interestingly, we found differences in the predictive value of IC markers between the ACT and BCT biopsies, suggesting that chemotherapy might influence the immune microenvironment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-402
Number of pages11
JournalBritish journal of cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2020

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