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Cancer letters, 469, 355--366
January, 2020

PD-L1+ aneuploid circulating tumor endothelial cells (CTECs) exhibit resistance to the checkpoint blockade immunotherapy in advanced NSCLC patients.

Zhang, Lina, Zhang, Xinyong, Liu, Yanxia, Zhang, Tongmei, Wang, Ziyu, Gu, Meng, Li, Yilin, Wang, Daisy Dandan, Li, Weiying, Lin, Peter Ping

Sustained angiogenesis and increased PD-L1 expression on endothelial and carcinoma cells contribute toward fostering an immunosuppressive microenvironment suitable for tumor growth. PD-L1 CTCs were reported to associate with poor prognosis in NSCLC patients. However, whether or not aneuploid circulating tumor endothelial cells (CTECs) express PD-L1, then serve as a surrogate biomarker to evaluate immunotherapy efficacy remains unknown. In this study, a novel SE-iFISH strategy was established to comprehensively quantify and characterize a full spectrum of aneuploid CTCs and CTECs in advanced NSCLC patients subjected to second-line anti-PD-1 (nivolumab) immunotherapy. In situ co-detection of diverse subtypes of aneuploid CTCs and CTECs expressing PD-L1 and Vimentin was performed. The present clinical study demonstrated that significant amounts of PD-L1 aneuploid CTCs and CTECs could be detected in histopathologic hPD-L1 patients. In contrast to decreased PD-L1 CTCs, the number of multiploid PD-L1 CTECs (≥tetrasomy 8) undergoing post-therapeutic karyotype shifting increased in patients along with tumor progression following anti-PD-1 treatment. Progressive disease (PD) lung cancer patients possessing multiploid PD-L1 CTECs had a significantly shorter PFS compared to those without PD-L1 CTECs. In carcinoma patients, aneuploid CTCs and CTECs may exhibit a functional interplay with respect to tumor angiogenesis, progression, metastasis, and response to immunotherapy.

Digital object identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.canlet.2019.10.041

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