The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of the coinhibitory molecule PD-L1/CD274 in monocytes and dendritic cells (DC) in the blood of lung cancer patients undergoing PD1 inhibitor therapy and to correlate data with patient's outcome. PD-L1/CD274 expression of monocytes, CD1c+ myeloid DC (mDC) and CD303+ plasmacytoid DC (pDC) was determined by flow cytometry in peripheral blood at immunotherapy onset. The predictive value of the PD-L1/CD274-expression data was determined by patients' survival analysis. Patients with a high PD-L1/CD274 expression of monocytes and blood DC subpopulations rarely responded to PD1 inhibitor therapy. Low PD-L1/CD274 expression of monocytes and DC correlated with prolonged progression-free survival (PFS) as well as overall survival (OS). The highest PD-L1/CD274 expression was found in CD14+HLA-DR++CD16+ intermediate monocytes. Whereas the PD-L1/CD274 expression of monocytes and DC showed a strong positive correlation, only the PD-L1/CD274 expression of DC inversely correlated with DC amounts and lymphocyte counts in peripheral blood. Our results implicate that a high PD-L1/CD274 expression of blood monocytes and DC subtypes is a risk factor for therapy response and for the survival of lung cancer patients undergoing PD1 inhibitor therapy.
Keywords: CD16+ monocytes; PD-L1/CD274; PD1 inhibitor therapy; blood monocytes; dendritic cells; flow cytometry; immune monitoring; lung cancer; survival analysis.