Background: Programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression on tumor cells engages the PD-1 receptor on T cells, inhibiting anti-tumor responses. PD-L1 has been detected in cases of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) but reports are limited. Here we examine PD-L1 expression and evaluate for clinical correlations. Methods: Twenty-one cases of PTLD were identified among pediatric kidney transplant recipients at our institution from February 1996 to April 2017. Using paraffin-embedded tissue biopsies, we examined 21 primary tumors for expression using PD-L1 monoclonal antibody performed with PAX5 as a double stain. We scored expression of PD-L1 on lesional B-cells as a percentage of positive cells. Clinical course and outcome were obtained from retrospective chart review. Results: Applying revised 2017 WHO PTLD classification showed five non-destructive, nine polymorphic, and seven monomorphic cases. Average PD-L1 expression based upon PTLD subtype was: non-destructive 11%, polymorphic 43%, and monomorphic 73% (p =.01). Two patients transferred shortly after diagnosis, five received chemotherapy, and three died from PTLD. Among the fatalities, all showed monomorphic PTLD and 90% of lesional B-cells expressed PD-L1. Conclusion: In this case series, significant differences in PD-L1 expression were seen among different subtypes, and monomorphic PTLD demonstrated the highest expression. Study of a larger cohort is needed, and if the correlation of PD-L1 expression and PTLD subtype is confirmed, this may highlight the potential utility of checkpoint inhibitor therapy in cases of severe or refractory disease among kidney transplant recipient in whom the risk of allograft loss is acceptable given the option of chronic dialysis.
- kidney transplant