Expression of PD-1 and PD-L1 in poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas of the digestive system: a potential target for anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy.
Poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma of the digestive system has a dismal prognosis with limited treatment options. This study aimed to investigate expression of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway in these tumors. Thirty-seven patients with a poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinoma of the digestive system were identified. Their electronic medical records, pathology reports, and pathology slides were reviewed for demographics, clinical history, and pathologic features. Tumor sections were immunohistochemically labeled for PD-1 and PD-L1, and expression of PD-1 and PD-L1 on tumor and tumor-associated immune cells was analyzed and compared between small cell and large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas. The mean age of patients was 61 years old with 18 men and 19 women. The colorectum (n=20) was the most common primary site; other primary sites included the pancreaticobiliary system, esophagus, stomach, duodenum, and ampulla. Expression of PD-1 was detected on tumor cells (n=6, 16%) as well as on tumor-associated immune cells (n=23, 63%). The 6 cases with PD-1 expression on tumor cells also had the expression on immune cells. Expression of PD-L1 was visualized on tumor cells in 5 cases (14%) and on tumor-associated immune cells in 10 cases (27%). There was no difference in PD-1 and PD-L1 expression between small cell and large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas. In conclusion, PD-1/PD-L1 expression is a frequent occurrence in poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas of the digestive system. Checkpoint blockade targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway may have a potential role in treating patients with this disease.
Roberts, JA; Gonzalez, RS; Das, S; Berlin, J; Shi, C
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)