Background: Programmed Death Ligand 1 (PD-L1) is a co-stimulatory and immune checkpoint protein. PD-L1 expression in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) is a hallmark of adaptive resistance and its expression is often used to predict the outcome of Programmed Death 1 (PD-1) and PD-L1 immunotherapy treatments. However, clinical benefits do not occur in all patients and new approaches are needed to assist in selecting patients for PD-1 or PD-L1 immunotherapies. Here, we hypothesized that patient tumor cell genomics influenced cell signaling and expression of PD-L1, chemokines, and immunosuppressive molecules and these profiles could be used to predict patient clinical responses.
Methods: We used a recent dataset from NSCLC patients treated with pembrolizumab. Deleterious gene mutational profiles in patient exomes were identified and annotated into a cancer network to create NSCLC patient-specific predictive computational simulation models. Validation checks were performed on the cancer network, simulation model predictions, and PD-1 match rates between patient-specific predicted and clinical responses.
Results: Expression profiles of these 24 chemokines and immunosuppressive molecules were used to identify patients who would or would not respond to PD-1 immunotherapy. PD-L1 expression alone was not sufficient to predict which patients would or would not respond to PD-1 immunotherapy. Adding chemokine and immunosuppressive molecule expression profiles allowed patient models to achieve a greater than 85.0% predictive correlation among predicted and reported patient clinical responses.
Conclusions: Our results suggested that chemokine and immunosuppressive molecule expression profiles can be used to accurately predict clinical responses thus differentiating among patients who would and would not benefit from PD-1 or PD-L1 immunotherapies.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01295827.
Keywords: Computational modeling; Immunotherapy; NSCLC; PD-1; PD-L1.