PD-L1 testing in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer: Interobserver and interplatform reproducibility of CE-IVD assays for CPS and IC scores

Hum Pathol. 2024 Feb:144:22-27. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2024.01.008. Epub 2024 Jan 24.


PD-L1 test is recommended in different types of tumors to select patients eligible for immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) therapy. Several factors make this test challenging in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC). Different assays and platforms are available, each associated with distinct scoring systems and threshold values specific to the ICI compound used, i.e. CPS≥10 for pembrolizumab and IC ≥ 1 % for atezolizumab. Our objective was to assess the consistency of PD-L1 testing in mTNBC by examining interobserver and interassay reproducibility. We assessed n = 60 mTNBC samples for PD-L1 testing using 22C3 pharmDx assay on a Dako Autostainer Link 48 and VENTANA PD-L1 (SP263) on a Ventana BenchMark Ultra. Additionally, a subset of n = 19 samples was tested using the SP142 assay, also on the Ventana BenchMark Ultra. CPS with both 22C3 and SP263 was independently evaluated by five pathologists, all certified PD-L1 trainers. The IC with SP142 was assessed by three of these pathologists, who have particular expertise in breast pathology. Following the computation of the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) for each assay and their respective thresholds, we assessed the agreement between different raters and assays using Fleiss's κ, with a 95 % confidence interval (CI). Overall, we observed a significant (p < 0.001) ICC with both CPS assays [22C3 = 0.939 (CI:0.913-0.96); SP263 = 0.972 (CI:0.96-0.982); combined 22C3-SP263 = 0.909 (CI:0.874-0.938)]. Fleiss's κ confirmed an almost perfect agreement among pathologists and assays: 22C3 = 0.938 (CI:0.857-1.018); SP263 = 0.972 (CI:0.890-1.052); combined 22C3-SP263 = 0.907 (CI:0.869-0.945). Perfect inter-rater agreement was reached considering IC. This study establishes the reliability of assessing CPS in mTNBC using either the 22C3 pharmDx, as employed in the KEYNOTE studies, or the VENTANA SP263 assay. Each assay must be used on its designated platform, namely the Dako for 22C3 pharmDx and the Ventana for VENTANA SP263. It is important to remark that CPS and IC identify different patient cohorts and, therefore, are not interchangeable.

Keywords: Breast cancer; CPS; IC; Immunotherapy; Metastatic TNBC; PD-L1; TNBC.

MeSH terms

  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • Biomarkers, Tumor