Programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) is an immune checkpoint molecule that can regulate immune responses in the tumor microenvironment (TME); however, the clinical applications of PD-L1 in early-stage colorectal cancer (CRC) remain unclear. In this study, we aimed to investigate the relationship between PD-L1 expression and survival outcome and explore its relevant immune responses in CRC. PD-L1 expression was evaluated by immunohistochemical staining to determine the tumor proportion score and combined positive score (CPS) in a Taiwanese CRC cohort. The oncomine immune response research assay was conducted for immune gene expression analyses. CRC datasets from the TCGA database were reappraised for PD-L1-associated gene enrichment analyses using GSEA. The high expression of PD-L1 (CPS ≥ 5) was associated with longer recurrence-free survival (p = 0.031) and was an independent prognostic factor as revealed by multivariate analysis. High PD-L1 expression was related to six immune-related gene signatures, and CXCL9 is the most significant overexpressed gene in differential analyses. High CXCL9 expression correlated with increased infiltration levels of immune cells in the TME, including CD8+ T lymphocytes and M1 macrophages. These findings suggest that high PD-L1 expression is a prognostic factor of early-stage CRC, and CXCL9 may play a key role in regulating PD-L1 expression.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Computer Science Applications
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry