Tumor immune microenvironment in non–muscle-invasive urothelial carcinoma of the bladder

Academic Article


  • Immunotherapy has gained significance in a variety of tumor types including advanced urothelial carcinoma. Noninvasive urothelial lesions have been treated with intravesical Bacillus-Calmette-Guerin (BCG) for decades. Given treatment failure in a subset of these tumors, ongoing clinical trials investigating the role of checkpoint inhibitors are actively pursued in this group of patients. The present study aims to delineate PD-L1, CD8, and FOXP3 expression in tumor microenvironment in non–muscle-invasive urothelial carcinoma samples obtained via sequential biopsies and to assess its potential role in predicting disease outcome. Cases with >1% and> 5% PD-L1 expression in tumor cells showed lower relative risk (RR) to recur at any subsequent biopsy compared with those with lower PD-L1 expression (RRs, 0.83 [P = .009] and 0.81 [P = .03], respectively). Cases with higher expression of FOXP3 in peritumoral lymphocytes were at lower risk for tumor grade progression at any biopsy (RR, 0.2; P = .02). Tumors with FOXP3/CD8 expression ratio of >1 in intratumoral lymphocytes had lower risk of grade progression (RR, 0.28; P = .04). Although higher number of FOXP3-, CD8-, and PD-L1–positive lymphocytes were encountered after BCG treatment, the findings did not reach statistical significance. In patients without BCG treatment, PD-L1 expression in tumor cells and peritumoral lymphocytes varied across serial biopsies, suggesting the need for additional approaches to assess eligibility for immunotherapy in non–muscle-invasive urothelial carcinoma patients.
  • Published In

  • Human Pathology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Eich ML; Chaux A; Guner G; Taheri D; Mendoza Rodriguez MA; Rodriguez Peña MDC; Baras AS; Hahn NM; Drake C; Sharma R
  • Start Page

  • 24
  • End Page

  • 32
  • Volume

  • 89