Background: Clinical trials of immune checkpoints modulators, including both programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) and programmed cell death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) inhibitors, have recently shown promising activity and tolerable toxicity in pre-treated NSCLC patients. However the predictive role of PD-L1 expression is still controversial. This pooled analysis aims to clarify the association of clinical objective responses to anti PD-1/PD-L1 monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) and tumor PD-L1 expression in pre-treated NSCLC patients.
Methods: Data from published studies, that evaluated efficacy and safety of PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in pre-treated NSCLC patients, stratified by tumor PD-L1 expression status (immunohistochemistry, cut-off point 1%), were collected by searching in PubMed, Cochrane Library, American Society of Clinical Oncology, European Society of Medical Oncology and World Conference of Lung Cancer, meeting proceedings. Pooled Odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were calculated for the Overall Response Rate (ORR) (as evaluated by Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, version 1.1), according to PD-L1 expression status.
Results: A total of seven studies, with 914 patients, were eligible. Pooled analysis showed that patients with PD-L1 positive tumors (PD-L1 tumor cell staining ≥1%), had a significantly higher ORR, compared to patients with PD-L1 negative tumors (OR: 2.44; 95% CIs: 1.61-3.68).
Conclusions: PD-L1 tumor over-expression seems to be associated with higher clinical activity of anti PD-1/PD-L1 MoAbs, in pre-treated NSCLC patients, suggesting a potential role of PD-L1 expression, IHC cut-off point 1%, as predictive biomarker for the selection of patients to treat with immune-checkpoint inhibitors.
Keywords: NSCLC; PD-L1; anti-PD1/PD-L1 MoAbs; immunotherapy; predictive biomarker.