Increase in PD-L1 expression after pre-operative radiotherapy for soft tissue sarcoma

Academic Article


  • Soft tissue sarcomas (STS) have minimal expression of PD-L1, a biomarker for PD-1 therapy efficacy. Radiotherapy (RT) has been shown to increase PD-L1 expression pre-clinically. We examined the expression of PD-L1, pre- and post-RT, in 46 Stage II-III STS patients treated with pre-operative RT (50–50.4 Gy in 25–28 fractions) followed by resection. Five additional patients who did not receive RT were utilized as controls. PD-L1 expression on biopsy and resection samples was evaluated by immunochemistry using the anti PD-L1 monoclonal antibody (E1L3 N clone; Cell Signaling). Greater than 1% membranous staining was considered positive PD-L1 expression. Changes in PD-L1 expression were analyzed via the Fisher exact test. Kaplan-Meier statistics were used to correlate PD-L1 expression to distant metastases (DM) rate. The majority of STS were T2b (87.0%), high-grade (80.4%), undifferentiated pleomorphic histology (71.7%), and originated from the extremities (84.6%). Zero patients demonstrated PD-L1 tumor expression pre-RT. Post-RT, 5 patients (10.9%) demonstrated PD-L1 tumor expression (p = 0.056). Tumor associated macrophages (TAM) expression of PD-L1 increased after RT: 15.2% to 45.7% (p = 0.003). Samples from controls demonstrated no baseline (0%) or change in tumor PD-L1 expression. Freedom from DM was lower for patients with PD-L1 TAM expression post-RT (3 years: 49.7% vs. 87.8%, log-rank p = 0.006); TAM PD-L1 positivity remained an independent predictor for DM on multivariate analyses (Hazard ratio–0.16, 95% confidence interval: 0.034–0.721, p = 0.042). PD-L1 expression on human STS tumor and TAM appears to elevate after pre-operative RT. Expression of PD-L1 on TAM after RT was associated with a higher rate of DM.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • OncoImmunology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 21658751
  • Author List

  • Patel KR; Martinez A; Stahl JM; Logan SJ; Perricone AJ; Ferris MJ; Buchwald ZS; Chowdhary M; Delman KA; Monson DK
  • Volume

  • 7
  • Issue

  • 7