Clinicopathological and prognostic significance of programmed cell death ligand1 (PD-L1) expression in patients with non-small cell lung cancer: a meta-analysis

Zhen-Kui Pan, Feng Ye, Xuan Wu, Han-Xiang An, Jing-Xun Wu


Objective: Programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) and one of its ligands, PD-L1, are key immune checkpoint proteins. Evidences showed PD-L1 is an emerging biomarker for immunotherapy by anti-PD-1 and anti- PD-L1 antibody in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). To investigate the association of PD-L1 protein expression with clinicopathological features and its impact on survival outcome, we conducted a metaanalysis.
Methods: A comprehensive literature search of electronic databases (up to July 10, 2014) was performed. Correlation between PD-L1 expression and clinicopathological features and overall survival (OS) was analyzed by synthesizing the qualified data. Publication biases were examined.
Results: A total of 1,550 NSCLC patients from 9 studies were included. The pooled odds ratios (ORs) indicated high PD-L1 expression was associated with poor tumor differentiation [OR =0.53, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.39-0.72, P<0.0001]. Whereas, none of other clinicopathological characteristics [gender, smoking status, histological type, invasive depth of tumor, status of lymph node metastasis and tumor node metastasis (TNM) stage] were correlated with PD-L1 expression in current analysis. The combined hazard ratio (HR) for OS showed high expression of PD-L1 impaired the OS in NSCLC (HRpositive/negative =1.47, 95% CI: 1.19-1.83, P=0.0004).
Conclusions: Our meta-analysis indicated PD-L1 protein expression in NSCLC was not associated with common clinicopathological characteristics, except tumor differentiation. It was a poor prognostic biomarker for NSCLC. Further research should be performed to investigate the precise clinicopathological and prognostic significance of PD-L1 in NSCLC under uniform testing standard.