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      Programmed Cell Death Ligand Expression Drives Immune Tolerogenesis across the Diverse Subtypes of Neuroendocrine Tumours

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          Introduction: A comprehensive characterization of the tumour microenvironment is lacking in neuroendocrine tumours (NETs), where programmed cell death-1 receptor-ligand (PD-1/PD-L1) inhibitors are undergoing efficacy testing. Objective: We investigated drivers of cancer-related immunosuppression across NETs of various sites and grades using multi-parameter immunohistochemistry and targeted transcriptomic profiling. Methods: Tissue microarrays ( n = 102) were stained for PD-L1 and 2 and indoleamine deoxygenase-1 (IDO-1) and evaluated in relationship to functional characteristics of tumour-infiltrating T-lymphocytes (TILs) and biomarkers of hypoxia/angiogenesis. PD-L1 expression was tested in circulating tumour cells (CTCs, n = 12) to evaluate its relationship with metastatic dissemination. Results: PD-L1 expression was highest in lung NETs ( n = 30, p = 0.007), whereas PD-L2 was highest in pancreatic NETs ( n = 53, p < 0.001) with no correlation with grade or hypoxia/angiogenesis. PD-L1<sup>+</sup> NETs ( n = 26, 25%) had greater CD4<sup>+</sup>/FOXP3<sup>+</sup> and CD8<sup>+</sup>/PD1<sup>+</sup> TILs ( p < 0.001) and necrosis ( p = 0.02). CD4<sup>+</sup>/FOXP3<sup>+</sup> infiltrate had the highest PD-L1/IDO-1 co-expressing tumours ( p = 0.006). Grade 3 well-differentiated NETs had lower CD4<sup>+</sup>/FOXP3<sup>+</sup> and CD8<sup>+</sup>/PD1<sup>+</sup> TIL density ( p < 0.001), and NanoString immune profiling revealed enrichment of macrophage-related transcripts in cases with poorer prognosis. We identified PD-L1(+) CTC subpopulations in 75% of evaluated patients ( n = 12). Conclusions: PD-L1 expression correlates with T-cell exhaustion independent of tumour hypoxia and is enhanced in a subpopulation of CTCs, suggesting its relevance to the progression of NETs. These findings support a potential therapeutic role for PD-L1 inhibitors in a subset of NETs.

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          The blockade of immune checkpoints in cancer immunotherapy.

          Among the most promising approaches to activating therapeutic antitumour immunity is the blockade of immune checkpoints. Immune checkpoints refer to a plethora of inhibitory pathways hardwired into the immune system that are crucial for maintaining self-tolerance and modulating the duration and amplitude of physiological immune responses in peripheral tissues in order to minimize collateral tissue damage. It is now clear that tumours co-opt certain immune-checkpoint pathways as a major mechanism of immune resistance, particularly against T cells that are specific for tumour antigens. Because many of the immune checkpoints are initiated by ligand-receptor interactions, they can be readily blocked by antibodies or modulated by recombinant forms of ligands or receptors. Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA4) antibodies were the first of this class of immunotherapeutics to achieve US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Preliminary clinical findings with blockers of additional immune-checkpoint proteins, such as programmed cell death protein 1 (PD1), indicate broad and diverse opportunities to enhance antitumour immunity with the potential to produce durable clinical responses.
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            One hundred years after "carcinoid": epidemiology of and prognostic factors for neuroendocrine tumors in 35,825 cases in the United States.

            PURPOSE Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are considered rare tumors and can produce a variety of hormones. In this study, we examined the epidemiology of and prognostic factors for NETs, because a thorough examination of neither had previously been performed. METHODS The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program registries were searched to identify NET cases from 1973 to 2004. Associated population data were used for incidence and prevalence analyses. Results We identified 35,618 patients with NETs. We observed a significant increase in the reported annual age-adjusted incidence of NETs from 1973 (1.09/100,000) to 2004 (5.25/100,000). Using the SEER 9 registry data, we estimated the 29-year limited-duration prevalence of NETs on January 1, 2004, to be 9,263. Also, the estimated 29-year limited-duration prevalence in the United States on that date was 103,312 cases (35/100,000). The most common primary tumor site varied by race, with the lung being the most common in white patients, and the rectum being the most common in Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and African American patients. Additionally, survival duration varied by histologic grade. In multivariate analysis of patients with well-differentiated to moderately differentiated NETs, disease stage, primary tumor site, histologic grade, sex, race, age, and year of diagnosis were predictors of outcome (P < .001). CONCLUSION We observed increased reported incidence of NETs and increased survival durations over time, suggesting that NETs are more prevalent than previously reported. Clinicians need to be become familiar with the natural history and patterns of disease progression, which are characteristic of these tumors.
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              Anti-angiogenesis for cancer revisited: Is there a role for combinations with immunotherapy?

              Angiogenesis is defined as the formation of new blood vessels from preexisting vessels and has been characterized as an essential process for tumor cell proliferation and viability. This has led to the development of pharmacological agents for anti-angiogenesis to disrupt the vascular supply and starve tumor of nutrients and oxygen, primarily through blockade of VEGF/VEGFR signaling. This effort has resulted in 11 anti-VEGF drugs approved for certain advanced cancers, alone or in combination with chemotherapy or other targeted therapies. But this success had only limited impact on overall survival of cancer patients and rarely resulted in durable responses. Given the recent success of immunotherapies, combinations of anti-angiogenics with immune checkpoint blockers have become an attractive strategy. However, implementing such combinations will require a better mechanistic understanding of their interaction. Due to overexpression of pro-angiogenic factors in tumors, their vasculature is often tortuous and disorganized, with excessively branched leaky vessels. This enhances vascular permeability, which in turn is associated with high interstitial fluid pressure, and a reduction in blood perfusion and oxygenation. Judicious dosing of anti-angiogenic treatment can transiently normalize the tumor vasculature by decreasing vascular permeability and improving tumor perfusion and blood flow, and synergize with immunotherapy in this time window. However, anti-angiogenics may also excessively prune tumor vessels in a dose and time-dependent manner, which induces hypoxia and immunosuppression, including increased expression of the immune checkpoint programmed death receptor ligand (PD-L1). This review focuses on revisiting the concept of anti-angiogenesis in combination with immunotherapy as a strategy for cancer treatment.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                May 2021
                25 February 2020
                : 111
                : 5
                : 465-474
                aDepartment of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, United Kingdom
                bDepartment of Medical Oncology, LC-4112, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
                cDepartment of Histopathology, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, United Kingdom
                dDepartment of Histopathology, Rockefeller Building, University College London Hospital, London, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                *David J. Pinato, NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in Medical Oncology, Imperial College London Hammersmith Campus, Du Cane Road, London W12 0HS (UK), david.pinato@imperial.ac.uk
                506745 Neuroendocrinology 2021;111:465–474
                © 2020 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 2, Pages: 10
                Research Article


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