Programmed death-1 (PD-1) receptor is an inhibitory receptor on hematopoietic cells that can negatively regulate immune responses, particularly responses to tumors, which often upregulate PD-1 ligands. PD-1/PD-1 ligand blocking antibodies can reverse the inhibition and show significant therapeutic promise in treating renal cell carcinoma (RCC), lung cancer, and melanoma. While PD-1 expression on tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes has been associated with poor outcome in RCC, we sought to define immune cell biomarkers, including PD-1, on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) that could predict disease progression of RCC patients before and after nephrectomy. We analyzed expression of numerous immune cell markers on fresh PBMCs from 90 RCC patients preoperatively and 25 age-matched healthy controls by 10-color flow cytometry. Postoperative blood samples were also analyzed from 23 members of the RCC patient cohort. The most striking phenotypic immune biomarker in RCC patients was a significant increase in PD-1 expression on certain PBMCs in a subset of patients. Increased PD-1 expression on CD14bright myelomonocytic cells, effector T cells, and natural killer (NK) cells correlated to disease stage, and expression was significantly reduced on all cell types soon after surgical resection of the primary tumor. The results indicate that PD-1 expression on fresh peripheral blood leukocytes may provide a useful indicator of RCC disease progression. Furthermore, measuring PD-1 levels in peripheral blood may assist in identifying patients likely to respond to PD-1 blocking antibodies, and these therapies may be most effective before and immediately after surgical resection of the primary tumor, when PD-1 expression is most prominent. Cancer Immunol Res; 1–12. ©2013 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Clinical Immunology Research Online (http://cancerimmunolres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received August 23, 2013.
- Revision received November 12, 2013.
- Accepted November 13, 2013.
- ©2013 American Association for Cancer Research.