Assessing programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) in patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) could indicate prognosis and disease progression, according to a study recently published in Cancers.

“Patients with active GIST had significantly higher plasma concentrations of [programmed death protein 1 (PD-1)] and PD-L1 than patients without evidence of disease,” the authors wrote.

This prospective study included 157 patients previously diagnosed with GIST from various oncological departments in Denmark. The patients’ ages ranged from 20 to 92 years, with a median age of 69 years. The proportions of female and male patients were almost equal at 50.3% and 49.7%, respectively. The median follow-up period was 2.37 years.

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The majority of the participants (n=122) had local, locally advanced, microscopic, or macroscopic metastatic disease. At the end of the follow-up period, 34 of these patients had died. Only 20 individuals had already undergone radical tumor resection and were receiving or had already received adjuvant therapy with no evidence of active disease. Of these patients, 3 died. The remaining 15 had already undergone radical surgery to resect a local tumor, none of whom died.

Interestingly, of the 3 cohorts mentioned, patients with active GIST had higher plasma levels of PD-L1 and PD-1 than those who had undergone radical surgery for localized disease. Moreover, individuals with PD-L1 levels of 225 pg/mL and above exhibited worse prognoses than those below that plasma level cutoff point. Importantly, PD-1 levels did not showcase the same predictive value.

Further suggesting an association between PD-1 and GIST progression, this biomarker’s plasma levels decreased 24 hours after the surgery compared to its preoperative value in patients with a localized tumor, Brinch and her team noted.

“Plasma PD-L1 shows potential as a prognostic biomarker in patients with GIST and should be further evaluated,” the study concluded.


Brinch CM, Hogdall E, Junker N, et al. The prognostic value of plasma programmed death protein-1 (PD-1) and programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) in patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumor. Cancers (Basel). Published online November 23, 2022. doi:10.3390/cancers14235753