Implications of Programmed Death Ligand-1 Positivity in Non-Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma

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Juan Chipollini
Mounsif Azizi
Charles C Peyton
Dominic H Tang
Jasreman Dhillon
Philippe E Spiess


Non-Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma, Prognosis, Programmed Death Ligand-1


The purpose of this study was to assess the prognostic value of programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) positivity in a non-clear cell renal cell carcinoma (non-ccRCC) cohort. PD-L1 expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC) using formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) specimens from 45 non-ccRCC patients with available tissue. PD-L1 positivity was defined as ?1% of staining. Histopathological characteristics and oncological outcomes were correlated to PD-L1 expression. Cancer-specific survival (CSS) and recurrence-free survival (RFS) stratified by PD-L1 status were estimated using the Kaplan–Meier method. Median age was 58 years and median follow-up was 40 months. Non-ccRCC subtypes included sarcomatoid (n = 9), rhabdoid (n = 6), medullary (n = 2), Xp11.2 translocation (n = 2), collecting duct (n = 1), papillary type I (n = 11), and papillary type II (n = 14). PD-L1 positivity was noted in nine (20%) patients. PD-L1 positivity was significantly associated with higher Fuhrman nuclear grade (P = 0.048) and perineural invasion (P = 0.043). Five-year CSS was 73.2 and 83% for PD-L1 positive and negative tumors, respectively (P = 0.47). Five-year RFS was 55.6 and 61.5% for PD-L1 positive and negative tumors, respectively (P = 0.58). PD-L1 was expressed in a fifth of non-ccRCC cases and was associated with adverse histopathologic features. Expression of biomarkers such PD-L1 may help better risk-stratify non-ccRCC patients to guide treatment decisions and follow-up strategies.
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