Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), an immunogenic tumor, is the most common form of kidney cancer worldwide. Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) play an important role in the treatment of metastatic RCC. Programmed death-ligand (PD-L1) has already been proposed as a possible prognosticator for ICIs effectiveness. To elucidate the feasible role of ICIs in neoadjuvant settings, we have assessed the most common PD-L1 expression modalities [tumor proportion score (TPS), combined positivity score (CPS) and inflammatory cell (IC) score] in primary tumors (PTs) and venous tumor thrombi (VTT) in first diagnosed, previously untreated RCC patients with accompanying VTT.
Between January 1999 and December 2016, 71 patients with a first diagnosed, untreated, locally advanced RCC (aRCC) (≥ pT3a) underwent surgery in Hanover Medical School (MHH). PD-L1 expression was examined separately in PTs and VTT using the CPS, IC score and TPS. We also considered the age at the time of the initial surgery and gender as probable influencing factors. By using a cutoff value of 1 (1%), PD-L1 expression levels in PTs and VTT were assessed to enable the determination of any frequency differences.
Positive scores for PTs were shown by 54 (CPS), 53 (IC score) and 34 (TPS) patients, whereas in VTT, positive scores were evaluated for a total of 50 (CPS), 47 (IC-score) and 36 (TPS) patients. No statistically significant differences were obtained between the PD-L1 expression immunoscores for PTs and VTT. The covariates age at the time of the initial surgery and gender could not be statistically proven to influence the differences in PD-L1 expression between the VTT and PTs.
To the best of our knowledge, this research is the largest study to investigate PD-L1 expression in PTs and VTT in 71 cases. It could have relevance for the future development of neoadjuvant immunotherapy options, particularly in aRCC with VTT.