Purpose: To determine the tumor tissue/cell distribution, functional associations, and clinical significance of PD-1, LAG- 3, and TIM-3 protein expression in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Experimental Design: Using multiplexed quantitative immunofluorescence, we performed localized measurements of CD3, PD-1, LAG-3, and TIM-3 protein in >800 clinically annotated NSCLCs from three independent cohorts represented in tissue microarrays. Associations between the marker's expression and major genomic alterations were studied in The Cancer Genome Atlas NSCLC dataset. Using mass cytometry (CyTOF) analysis of leukocytes collected from 20 resected NSCLCs, we determined the levels, coexpression, and functional profile of PD-1, LAG-3, and TIM-3 expressing immune cells. Finally, we measured the markers in baseline samples from 90 patients with advanced NSCLC treated with PD-1 axis blockers and known response to treatment. Results: PD-1, LAG-3, and TIM-3 were detected in tumorinfiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) from 55%, 41.5%, and 25.3% of NSCLC cases, respectively. These markers showed a prominent association with each other and limited association with major clinicopathologic variables and survival in patients not receiving immunotherapy. Expression of the markers was lower in EGFR-mutated adenocarcinomas and displayed limited association with tumor mutational burden. In single-cell CyTOF analysis, PD-1 and LAG-3 were predominantly localized on T-cell subsets/NKT cells, whereas TIM-3 expression was higher in NK cells and macrophages. Coexpression of PD-1, LAG-3, and TIM-3 was associated with prominent T-cell activation (CD69/CD137), effector function (Granzyme-B), and proliferation (Ki-67), but also with elevated levels of proapoptotic markers (FAS/BIM). LAG-3 and TIM-3 were present in TIL subsets lacking PD-1 expression and showed a distinct functional profile. In baseline samples from 90 patients with advanced NSCLC treated with PD-1 axis blockers, elevated LAG-3 was significantly associated with shorter progressionfree survival. Conclusions: PD-1, LAG-3, and TIM-3 have distinct tissue/ cell distribution, functional implications, and genomic correlates in human NSCLC. Expression of these immune inhibitory receptors in TILs is associated with prominent activation, but also with a proapoptotic T-cell phenotype. Elevated LAG-3 expression is associated with insensitivity to PD-1 axis blockade, suggesting independence of these immune evasion pathways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research