PD-L1, PD-1, LAG-3, and TIM-3 in Melanoma: Expression in Brain Metastases Compared to Corresponding Extracranial Tumors CUREUS Wang, J., Burger, P., Taube, J., Soni, A., Chaichana, K., Sheu, M., Belcaid, Z., Jackson, C., Lim, M. 2019; 11 (12): e6352


Background Metastatic melanoma to the brain carries a particularly poor prognosis that may be associated with an attenuated antitumor response in the presence of central nervous system malignancies. Thus, the development of brain metastases could theoretically accelerate cancer progression both locally and systemically. Although dysregulation of checkpoint markers, such as programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), programmed cell death receptor 1 (PD-1), lymphocyte activation gene 3 (LAG-3), and T-cell immunoglobulin and mucin-domain containing-3 (TIM-3), have been implicated in immune dysfunction, the exact relationship between these markers and brain tumor-mediated immune suppression remains unclear. Thus, the objective of this study was to explore whether there exists a differential expression of the above checkpoint markers in the intracranial milieu as compared to tumors in the periphery, which may shed light on the mechanism behind the diminished antitumor response. Methods We identified nine patients with extracranial melanomas and matched intracranial metastases. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded slides were stained for PD-L1, PD-1, LAG-3, and TIM-3 via immunohistochemistry. Qualitative analysis was performed to assess the staining of the markers in the neoplastic and lymphocytic cells, which were the two cell lineages in each biopsy.  Results Expression of PD-1 and TIM-3 between extracranial and intracranial tumoral sites was conserved. Specifically, in lymphocytes, PD-1 expression was observed in 100% of extracranial and 100% of intracranial slides, whereas TIM-3 expression was seen in 33.33% of extracranial and 33.33% of intracranial slides. Neither marker stained tumor cells, as expected. PD-L1 showed a slight variation in staining between sites, with lymphocyte staining in 100% of extracranial and 88.89% of intracranial slides, and the same percentages per site for tumor cells. The greatest variability was observed in LAG-3 lymphocyte staining, with staining in 77.78% of extracranial and 33.33% of intracranial slides. No LAG-3 staining of tumor cells was noted, as expected. Conclusion Preliminary analysis revealed the conservation of PD-L1, PD-1, LAG-3, and TIM-3 expression intra- and extracranially. This could suggest that these markers are important in maintaining an immunosuppressive phenotype at both sites. Another possibility is that this pattern of expression is associated with patients who develop brain metastasis, as this was the only subset of patients included in this study. Interestingly, LAG-3 staining of lymphocytes appeared more prominent in extracranial over intracranial tumors. Future studies should include more samples to draw out potential patterns masked by the small sample size, as well as to compare checkpoint expression in other patient groups, such as those with non-brain metastasis or those with no metastasis at all.

View details for DOI 10.7759/cureus.6352

View details for Web of Science ID 000504823500010

View details for PubMedID 31938638

View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6952042