Predictive Biomarkers for Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer: Perspective From the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer Pathology Committee

J Thorac Oncol. 2022 Dec;17(12):1335-1354. doi: 10.1016/j.jtho.2022.09.109. Epub 2022 Sep 29.


Immunotherapy including immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) has become the backbone of treatment for most lung cancers with advanced or metastatic disease. In addition, they have increasingly been used for early stage tumors in neoadjuvant and adjuvant settings. Unfortunately, however, only a subset of patients experiences meaningful response to ICIs. Although programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) protein expression by immunohistochemistry (IHC) has played a role as the principal predictive biomarker for immunotherapy, its performance may not be optimal, and it suffers multiple practical issues with different companion diagnostic assays approved. Similarly, tumor mutational burden (TMB) has multiple technical issues as a predictive biomarker for ICIs. Now, ongoing research on tumor- and host immune-specific factors has identified immunotherapy biomarkers that may provide better response and prognosis prediction, in particular in a multimodal approach. This review by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer Pathology Committee provides an overview of various immunotherapy biomarkers, including updated data on PD-L1 IHC and TMB, and assessments of neoantigens, genetic and epigenetic signatures, immune microenvironment by IHC and transcriptomics, and microbiome and pathologic response to neoadjuvant immunotherapies. The aim of this review is to underline the efficacy of new individual or combined predictive biomarkers beyond PD-L1 IHC and TMB.

Keywords: Immunotherapy; Lung cancer; Neoadjuvant therapy; PD-L1; Predictive biomarkers; TMB.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Lung Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • Biomarkers, Tumor