CD276 is an immune checkpoint molecule. Elevated CD276 expression by urothelial carcinoma is associated with poor prognosis, but little is known about its expression across different tumor stages. We therefore investigated CD276 expression in bladder cancer (BC) cells and in tissue samples of BC stages from pT2 to pT4.
CD276 expression was explored in 4 urothelial cancer cell lines and 4 primary normal urothelial cell populations by quantitative RT-PCR, Western blot and flow cytometry. CD276 was investigated in bladder tumors from 98 patients by immunohistochemistry using a score (0–300) incorporating both, staining intensity and area of CD276 staining. Normal appearing urothelium in the bladder of the same patients served as controls.
The urothelial carcinoma cell lines expressed significantly higher levels of CD276 on transcript ( p < 0.006), total protein levels ( p < 0.005), and on the cell surface ( p < 0.02) when compared to normal urothelial cells. In pT2–T4 tumor tissue samples, CD276 was overexpressed (median score 185) when compared to corresponding healthy tissues from the same patients (median score 50; p < 0.001). No significant differences in CD276 expression were recorded in late, locally advanced ≥ pT3a tumors (median score 185) versus organ-confined < pT3a tumors (median score 190), but it was significantly lower in the normal urothelial tissue associated with ≥ pT3a tumors (median score 40) versus < pT3a tumors (median score 80; p < 0.05).