PD-L1 expression and PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in breast cancer.
The development of immune checkpoints inhibitors represents one of the major recent advances in oncology. Monoclonal antibodies directed against the programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) or its ligand (PD-L1) provides durable disease control, particularly in melanoma, lung, kidney, bladder and head and neck cancers. The purpose of this review is to synthesize current data on the expression of PD-L1 in breast cancer and on the preliminary clinical results of PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in breast cancer patients. In breast cancer, PD-L1 expression is heterogeneous and is generally associated with the presence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes as well as the presence of poor-prognosis factors, such as young age, high grade, ER-negativity, PR-negativity, and HER-2 overexpression, high proliferative index, and aggressive molecular subtypes (triple negative, basal-like, HER-2-overexpressing). Its prognostic value remains controversial when assessed with immunohistochemistry, whereas it seems favorable in triple-negative cancers when assessed at the mRNA level. Early clinical trials with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in breast cancer have shown efficacy in terms of tumor response and/or disease control in refractory metastatic breast cancers, notably in the triple-negative subtype. Many trials are currently underway, both in the metastatic and neo-adjuvant setting. A crucial issue is identification of biomarkers predictive of response to PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors.Read the article