Purpose: B7-H1/PD-L1 (B7-H1) and B7-DC/PD-L2 (B7-DC) are ligands for the receptor PD-1, which is known to negatively regulate T-cell activation. In the present study, we investigated the expression of B7-H1 and B7-DC in tumor specimens of non-small cell lung cancer and their relationships with clinicopathological variables and postoperative survival. Furthermore, we examined the correlation between B7-H1 expression on tumor cells and the number of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) or PD-1 expression on TILs.
Experimental design: The expression of B7-H1 and B7-DC in 52 surgically resected specimens of non-small cell lung cancer was evaluated immunohistochemically.
Results: Expression of B7-H1 and B7-DC was focally observed in all non-small cell lung cancer tumor specimens. No relationship was found between the expression of B7-H1 or B7-DC and clinicopathological variables or postoperative survival. However, in the same sections evaluated, significantly fewer TILs were identified in B7-H1-positive tumor regions than in B7-H1-negative tumor regions in a subset of five patients (P = 0.01). Moreover, the percentage of TILs expressing PD-1 was significantly lower in B7-H1-positive tumor regions than in B7-H1-negative tumor regions (P = 0.02).
Conclusions: The expression of B7-H1 on tumor cells in local areas reciprocally correlated with the number of TILs, and this may contribute to negative regulation in antitumor immune responses in non-small cell lung cancer.