PD-L1 Immunohistochemistry Comparability Study in Real-Life Clinical Samples: Results of Blueprint Phase 2 Project

J Thorac Oncol. 2018 Sep;13(9):1302-1311. doi: 10.1016/j.jtho.2018.05.013. Epub 2018 May 22.


Objectives: The Blueprint (BP) Programmed Death Ligand 1 (PD-L1) Immunohistochemistry Comparability Project is a pivotal academic/professional society and industrial collaboration to assess the feasibility of harmonizing the clinical use of five independently developed commercial PD-L1 immunohistochemistry assays. The goal of BP phase 2 (BP2) was to validate the results obtained in BP phase 1 by using real-world clinical lung cancer samples.

Methods: BP2 were conducted using 81 lung cancer specimens of various histological and sample types, stained with all five trial-validated PD-L1 assays (22C3, 28-8, SP142, SP263, and 73-10); the slides were evaluated by an international panel of pathologists. BP2 also assessed the reliability of PD-L1 scoring by using digital images, and samples prepared for cytological examination. PD-L1 expression was assessed for percentage (tumor proportional score) of tumor cell (TC) and immune cell areas showing PD-L1 staining, with TCs scored continuously or categorically with the cutoffs used in checkpoint inhibitor trials.

Results: The BP2 results showed highly comparable staining by the 22C3, 28-8 and SP263 assays; less sensitivity with the SP142 assay; and higher sensitivity with the 73-10 assay to detect PD-L1 expression on TCs. Glass slide and digital image scorings were highly concordant (Pearson correlation >0.96). There was very strong reliability among pathologists in TC PD-L1 scoring with all assays (overall intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] = 0.86-0.93), poor reliability in IC PD-L1 scoring (overall ICC = 0.18-0.19), and good agreement in assessing PD-L1 status on cytological cell block materials (ICC = 0.78-0.85).

Conclusion: BP2 consolidates the analytical evidence for interchangeability of the 22C3, 28-8, and SP263 assays and lower sensitivity of the SP142 assay for determining tumor proportion score on TCs and demonstrates greater sensitivity of the 73-10 assay compared with that of the other assays.

Keywords: Checkpoint inhibitors; Companion diagnostics; Complementary diagnostics; Cytology; Immunooncology; Pathology.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B7-H1 Antigen / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • CD274 protein, human