A PD-1/PD-L1 Proximity Assay as a Theranostic Marker for PD-1 Blockade in Patients with Metastatic Melanoma

Nom de la revue
Clinical Cancer Research
Isabelle Girault, Julien Adam, Shensi Shen, Séverine Roy, Caroline Brard, Sara Faouzi, Emilie Routier, Jéremy Lupu, Sarah Warren, Kristina Sorg, SuFey Ong, Pascale Morel, Jean-Yves Scoazec, Stéphan Vagner, Caroline Robert


Less than 50% of patients with melanoma respond to anti–programmed cell death protein 1 (anti–PD-1), and this treatment can induce severe toxicity. Predictive markers are thus needed to improve the benefit/risk ratio of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI). Baseline tumor parameters such as programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression, CD8+ T-cell infiltration, mutational burden, and various transcriptomic signatures are associated with response to ICI, but their predictive values are not sufficient. Interaction between PD-1 and its main ligand, PD-L1, appears as a valuable target of anti–PD-1 therapy. Thus, instead of looking at PD-L1 expression only, we evaluated the predictive value of the proximity between PD-1 and its neighboring PD-L1 molecules in terms of response to anti–PD-1 therapy.

Experimental Design:
PD-1/PD-L1 proximity was assessed by proximity ligation assay (PLA) on 137 samples from two cohorts (exploratory n = 66 and validation n = 71) of samples from patients with melanoma treated with anti–PD-1±anti–CTLA-4. Additional predictive biomarkers, such as PD-L1 expression (MELscore), CD8+ cells density, and NanoString RNA signature, were also evaluated.

A PD-1/PD-L1 PLA model was developed to predict tumor response in an exploratory cohort and further evaluated in an independent validation cohort. This score showed higher predictive ability (AUC = 0.85 and 0.79 in the two cohorts, respectively) for PD-1/PD-L1 PLA as compared with other parameters (AUC = 0.71–0.77). Progression-free and overall survival were significantly longer in patients with high PLA values (P = 0.00019 and P < 0.0001, respectively).

The proximity between PD-1 and PD-L1, easily assessed by this PLA on one formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded section, appears as a new biomarker of anti–PD-1 efficacy.