PDL1 expression and its correlation with outcomes in non-metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)

Ecancermedicalscience. 2021 Apr 6:15:1217. doi: 10.3332/ecancer.2021.1217. eCollection 2021.


Purpose: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) has a poor outcome compared to other subtypes, even in those with early disease. Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have been approved in metastatic diseases and are being tested as a neoadjuvant strategy also. The response to ICIs is largely determined by the programmed death ligand 1 (PDL1) score, which also acts as a prognostic marker for outcomes. Here, we report the proportion of PDL1 expression in non-metastatic TNBC and its correlation with response to chemotherapy and outcomes.

Methods: We included all patients who had non-metastatic TNBC treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy, followed by surgery with/without adjuvant radiotherapy between September 2011 and November 2017. PDL1 testing was carried out on pre-treatment tumour cells with immunohistochemistry (Ventana SP142) and was correlated with pathological response, relapse-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS). PDL1 staining was interpreted as negative or positive (more than 1% staining).

Results: A total of 107 patients were included for analysis with a median age of 47 years (28-65 yrs). The PDL1 expression of more than 1% was seen in 31 (28.97%) patients. After a median follow-up of 55 months (range: 4-93 months), median RFS and OS were not reached. PDL1 expression did not affect the achievement of pathological complete response (pCR). However, PDL1 expression improved OS (p = 0.016) and trend towards RFS (p = 0.05). Patients who achieved pCR had better RFS and OC compared to those who did not.

Conclusion: Our study shows PDL1 expression in 29% of the cases. PDL1 expression leads to better RFS and OS. Also, pCR improves survival.

Keywords: PDL1; early breast cancer; triple negative.

Publication types

  • Case Reports