Background: Globally, colorectal carcinoma (CRC) is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women. Programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) and cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4) are immune checkpoints that induce tumour immune escape.
Aim: This study aimed to evaluate the immunohistochemical expression of PD-L1 and CTLA-4 in CRC and their relationship with clinicopathological parameters and survival data.
Result: This study included 103 CRC, 22 adenoma and 21 non-neoplastic specimens. High PD-L1 epithelial expression was in favour of CRC and high-grade dysplastic adenoma compared to normal specimens. High PD-L1 epithelial expression was associated with larger sized tumours, perforation, advanced T stage, infiltrative tumour border configuration (TBC), high tumour budding (TB) score, low tumour-stroma ratio (TSR) and absence of peritumoural lymphocytes. High PD-L1+ tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) showed an association with absence of perforation, early T stage, pushing TBC, lower TB score, high TSR and presence of peritumoural lymphocytes. High epithelial CTLA-4 expression was in favour of adenocarcinoma, high-grade dysplastic adenoma and low-grade dysplastic adenoma compared to normal specimens. High CTLA-4 epithelial score showed an association with positive lymph nodes (LNs), presence of an infiltrative TBC and absence of peritumoural lymphocytes. Low CTLA-4+ TILs showed a significant association with advanced tumour stage and increased number of positive LNs. Prolonged survival was associated with low epithelial PD-L1 and CTLA-4, high PD-L1+ TILs and high CTLA-4+ TILs. By multivariate Cox regression analysis, PD-L1+ TILs immunoreactivity score (p = 0.020) and CTLA-4+ TILs H. score (p = 0.036) were independent prognostic factors affecting overall survival among the other prognostic factors.
Conclusion: PD-L1 and CTLA-4 expression by tumour cells could cooperate with each other in enhancing progression of CRC leading to poor patient outcome, while their expression by TILs could stand against tumour progression.