Objective:We investigated microsatellite instability (MSI) status and programed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression as predictors of prognosis and responsiveness to chemotherapy for stage II/III gastric cancer.Background:The clinical implications of MSI status and PD-L1 expression in gastric cancer have not been well-elucidated.Methods:Tumor specimens and clinical information were collected from patients enrolled in the CLASSIC trial - a randomized controlled study of capecitabine plus oxaliplatin-based adjuvant chemotherapy. Five quasi-monomorphic mononucleotide markers were used to assess tumor MSI status. PD-L1 expressions of tumor and stromal immune cells were evaluated using immunohistochemistry.Results:Of 592 patients, 40 (6.8%) had MSI-high (MSI-H) tumors. Among 582 patients available for immunohistochemistry evaluation, PD-L1 was positive in tumor cells (tPD-L1) of 16 patients (2.7%) and stromal immune cells (sPD-L1) of 165 patients (28.4%). Multivariable analysis of disease-free survival (DFS) showed that MSI-H and sPD-L1-positivity were independent prognostic factors [hazard ratio 0.301 (0.123-0.736), 0.714 (0.514-0.991); P = 0.008, 0.044), as were receiving chemotherapy, age, tumor grade, and TNM stage. Although adjuvant chemotherapy improved DFS in the microsatellite-stable (MSS) group (5-year DFS: 66.8% vs 54.1%; P = 0.002); no benefit was observed in the MSI-H group (5-year DFS: 83.9% vs 85.7%; P = 0.931). In the MSS group, sPD-L1-negative patients, but not sPD-L1-positive patients, had significant survival benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy compared with surgery only (5-year DFS: 66.1% vs 50.7%; P = 0.001).Conclusion:MSI status and PD-L1 expression are clinically actionable biomarkers for stratifying patients and predicting benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy after D2 gastrectomy for stage II/III gastric cancer.
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