Rationale: This study aimed to use computed tomography (CT) images to assess PD-L1 expression in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and predict response to immunotherapy. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed a PD-L1 expression dataset that consisted of 939 consecutive stage IIIB-IV NSCLC patients with pretreatment CT images. A deep convolutional neural network was trained and optimized with CT images from the training cohort (n = 750) and validation cohort (n = 93) to obtain a PD-L1 expression signature (PD-L1ES), which was evaluated using the test cohort (n = 96). Finally, a separate immunotherapy cohort (n = 94) was used to assess the prognostic value of PD-L1ES with respect to clinical outcome. Results: PD-L1ES was able to predict high PD-L1 expression (PD-L1 ≥ 50%) with areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.78 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.75~0.80), 0.71 (95% CI: 0.59~0.81), and 0.76 (95% CI: 0.66~0.85) in the training, validation, and test cohorts, respectively. In patients treated with anti-PD-1 antibody, low PD-L1ES was associated with improved progression-free survival (PFS) (median PFS 363 days in low score group vs 183 days in high score group; hazard ratio [HR]: 2.57, 95% CI: 1.22~5.44; P = 0.010). Additionally, when PD-L1ES was combined with a clinical model that was trained using age, sex, smoking history and family history of malignancy, the response to immunotherapy could be better predicted compared to either PD-L1ES or the clinical model alone. Conclusions: The deep learning model provides a noninvasive method to predict high PD-L1 expression of NSCLC and to infer clinical outcomes in response to immunotherapy. Additionally, this deep learning model combined with clinical models demonstrated improved stratification capabilities.
Tian Panwen, He Bingxi, Mu Wei, Liu Kunqin, Liu Li, Zeng Hao, Liu Yujie, Jiang Lili, Zhou Ping, Huang Zhipei, Dong Di, Li Weimin
PD-L1 expression, computed tomography, deep learning, immunotherapy, non-small cell lung cancer