Very little is known about receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) expression on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in humans including renal cell carcinoma (RCC) patients.
The primary objective of this study was to evaluate expression levels of major RTKs on PBMC and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) isolated from RCC patients. The secondary aim was to compare levels of RTK expression in RCC patients before surgery and on the 180th day after surgery (lymphocyte lifetime) and to compare them with the expression in healthy donors. In addition, we compared RTK and PD-L1 expression in TIL.
Tumor and blood samples were obtained from 20 patients with primary RCC immediately after surgical resection. Blood samples were collected from 20 healthy donors. Tumors were harvested into RPMI 1640 medium (Gibco) and processed within 4 h. TIL isolation was performed using a modified protocol [Baldan et al. Br J Cancer. 2015;112:1510-18]. Expression of RTKs was evaluated with NovoExpress Software. Twenty tumors from the same patients were stained with PD-L1 IHC assay (clone SP142; Ventana).
PBMC and TIL express RTKs in humans. The RTK expression level was significantly lower on peripheral blood cells in patients with RCC (mean 41%, range 27.1-62.6%) as compared with healthy donor PBMC (mean 77.1%, range 72.1-80.1%, all p < 0.05). Furthermore, RTK expression was significantly downregulated on intratumoral cells (mean 40%, range 23.2-52.3%) in comparison with healthy donor PBMC. There was no significant recovery of RTK expression on the 180th day except for VEGFR2. Five of 20 (25%) patients were PD-L1 positive. PD-L1 expression on TIL was strongly associated with downregulated expression of PDGFRα (p = 0.017) and PDGFRβ (p = 0.024).
PBMC and TIL had similar low RTK expression levels in RCC patients. PBMC of healthy humans had a significantly higher expression of RTK. PD-L1 and PDGFRα-β expression could correlate. Comprehensive basic and clinical studies will be needed to define a biological role of RTKs on different lymphocyte subsets and correlations between clinical outcomes and expression levels.

© 2020 S. Karger AG, Basel.