Immune checkpoint signaling plays an important role in immunosuppression in multiple myeloma (MM). Blood levels of soluble programmed death-ligand 1 (sPD-L1), a checkpoint-relevant protein, might predict treatment response and survival outcomes in MM patients. We used an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to measure serum sPD-L1 levels in 81 newly diagnosed MM patients. We found that myeloma patients had higher sPD-L1 concentrations than healthy controls. The best sPD-L1 cutoff value for predicting disease progression risk was 2.783 ng/mL. The overall response rate to treatment was higher in low sPD-L1 patients than in high sPD-L1 patients. The 3-year progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) rates for all patients were 16% and 64%, respectively. Multivariate survival analysis including Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status score, treatment response, and sPD-L1 level showed that a less than partial treatment response (PR) and higher sPD-L1 levels (>2.783 ng/ml) were independent prognostic factors for shorter PFS; neither factor was predictive of OS. The serum sPD-L1 level is a valuable biomarker for predicting treatment response and an independent prognostic factor for PFS. PD-1/ PD-L1 blockade may be a promising novel immune-based therapeutic strategy in MM.
Keywords: biomarker; immune checkpoint; multiple myeloma; prognosis; programmed death-ligand 1.