Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is one of the most chemo- and radio-resistant malignancies, with poor associated patient survival if the disease metastasizes. With recent advances in immunotherapy, particularly with PD-1/PD-L1 blockade, outcomes are improving, but a substantial subset of patients does not respond to the new agents. Identifying such patients and improving the therapeutic ratio has been a challenge, although much effort has been made to study PD-1/PD-L1 status in pre-treatment tumor. However, tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) content might also be predictive of response, and our goal was to characterize TIL content and PD-L1 expression in RCC tumors from various anatomic sites. Utilizing a quantitative immunofluorescence technique, TIL subsets were examined in matched primary and metastatic specimens. In metastatic specimens, we found an association between low CD8+ to Foxp3+ T-cell ratios and high levels of PD-L1. High PD-L1-expressing metastases were also found to be associated with tumors that were high in both CD4+ and Foxp3+ T-cell content. Taken together these results provide the basis for combining agents that target the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway with agonist of immune activation, particularly in treating RCC metastases with unfavorable tumor characteristics and microenvironment. In addition, CD8+ TIL density and CD8:Foxp3 T-cell ratio were higher in primary than metastatic specimens, supporting the need to assess distant sites for predictive biomarkers when treating disseminated disease.
- Renal cell carcinoma (RCC)
- Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs)
ASJC Scopus subject areas