Investigating Radiotherapy Effects on PD-L1 Expression in Circulating Tumor Cells: An Exploratory Study

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Andalas and Universitas Baiturrahmah, Padang, Indonesia.

2 Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Andalas, Padang, Indonesia.

3 Department of Radiation Oncology, Cipto Mangunkusumo National General Hospital, Faculty of Medicine Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia.


Introduction: Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and Programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) play pivotal roles in cancer biology and therapy response. This exploratory study aimed to elucidate the influence of neoadjuvant radiotherapy on PD-L1 expression in tumor tissues and CTCs of patients with inoperable locally advanced breast cancer. Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study at Universitas Andalas Hospital Padang from January to December 2022 with 27 patients. Biopsies and blood draws were executed before and after the tenth fractions of neoadjuvant radiotherapy. Following radiotherapy, CTCs were isolated using magnetic beads enrichment, followed by an RT-PCR analysis for PD-L1 expression. Correlations between PD-L1 expression and tumor response, evaluated via local response and RECIST criteria before and after radiotherapy breast CT scan, were examined using Fisher’s exact and chi-square tests. Results: Our data revealed no significant alterations in PD-L1 expression in either tumor tissues or CTCs during radiotherapy (p=0.848 for tissue, p=0.548 for CTCs). Notably, PD-L1 expression in tumor tissue before treatment was significantly associated with RECIST (p=0.021), while other correlations with local response and RECIST were not statistically significant. Conclusion: The study implies radiotherapy may not significantly influence PD-L1 expression in tumor tissue and CTCs. However, pre-treatment PD-L1 expression in tumor tissue correlates with RECIST criteria. These findings highlight the need for additional, comprehensive studies to elucidate further the interplay between PD-L1, CTCs, and radiotherapy response.


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