Diabetes mellitus type 2 is associated with increased tumor expression of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) in surgically resected non-small cell lung cancer—A matched case-control study

Christopher A. Febres-Aldana, Robert Poppiti, John M. Varlotto, Rick Voland, Michael Zaleski, Setareh Sharzehi, Negar Rassaei

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Objectives: Programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression is a biomarker for cancer immunotherapy. Diabetes mellitus type-2 is a comorbid disease associated with adverse outcomes in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). We aimed to investigate the differences in PD-L1 expression in diabetics. Methods: A matched case-control cohort of surgically-resected NSCLC was assembled from an early multicenter study (PMID: 19152440). PD-L1 immunohistochemistry (Clone 22C3) was graded by a tumor positive score (TPS) system (TPS0: no staining; TPS1: <1%; TPS2: 1–49%; TPS3: ≥50%). Variables showing significance at univariate survival analysis were fit in a Cox regression survival model. Results: Diabetics (n=40) and nondiabetics (n=39) showed no differences in age, gender, cancer stage, and follow-up. NSCLCs were more likely PD-L1 positive in diabetics but with tumor positivity <50% (TPS0: 7.5 vs. 20.5%, TPS1: 35 vs. 25.6%, TPS2: 45 vs.23.1%, TPS3: 12.5 vs. 30.8%, respectively; P<0.05). In diabetics, squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) and adenocarcinomas were mainly TPS2 (65% vs. 20%) and TPS1 (50% vs. 26%), respectively. Peritumoral inflammation correlated with TPS (r=0.228), a relationship accentuated in diabetics (r=0.377, P<0.05) but diminished and non-significant in nondiabetics (r=0.136, P≥0.05). This association was stronger in SCC (r=0.424). Diabetes was associated with increased tumor recurrence (HR: 3.08; 95%CI: 1.027-9.23). Conclusion: Diabetes is associated with an increase in peritumoral inflammation, PD-L1 positivity, and recurrence in NSCLC, more pronounced in SCC, suggesting the possibility of metabolic reprogramming and upregulation of PD-L1 by inducible pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100170
JournalCancer Treatment and Research Communications
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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