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In Annals of translational medicine

Background : Programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) expression remains a crucial predictor in selecting patients for immunotherapy. The current study aimed to non-invasively predict PD-L1 expression based on chest computed tomography (CT) images in advanced lung adenocarcinomas (LUAD), thus help select optimal patients who can potentially benefit from immunotherapy.

Methods : A total of 127 patients with stage III and IV LUAD were enrolled into this study. Pretreatment enhanced thin-section CT images were available for all patients and were analyzed in terms of both morphologic characteristics by radiologists and deep learning (DL), so to further determine the association between CT features and PD-L1 expression status. Univariate analysis and multivariate logical regression analysis were applied to evaluate significant variables. For DL, the 3D DenseNet model was built and validated. The study cohort were grouped by PD-L1 Tumor Proportion Scores (TPS) cutoff value of 1% (positive/negative expression) and 50% respectively.

Results : Among 127 LUAD patients, 46 (36.2%) patients were PD-L1-positive and 38 (29.9%) patients expressed PD-L1-TPS ≥50%. For morphologic characteristics, univariate and multivariate analysis revealed that only lung metastasis was significantly associated with PD-L1 expression status despite of different PD-L1 TPS cutoff values, and its Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) for predicting PD-L1 expression were less than 0.700. On the other hand, the predictive value of DL-3D DenseNet model was higher than that of the morphologic characteristics, with AUC more than 0.750.

Conclusions : The traditional morphologic CT characteristics analyzed by radiologists show limited prediction efficacy for PD-L1 expression. By contrast, CT-derived deep neural network improves the prediction efficacy, it may serve as an important alternative marker for clinical PD-L1 detection.

Zhu Ying, Liu Yang-Li, Feng Yu, Yang Xiao-Yu, Zhang Jing, Chang Dan-Dan, Wu Xi, Tian Xi, Tang Ke-Jing, Xie Can-Mao, Guo Yu-Biao, Feng Shi-Ting, Ke Zun-Fu


Programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1), X-ray computed tomography (X-ray CT), deep learning (DL), lung cancer, neural networks