Background: It has been reported that the tumor microenvironment, including tumor-associated immune cells (ICs) and programmed cell death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression, differs between primary and metastatic tumors. This study aimed to elucidate the differences in PD-L1 expression on tumor cells (TCs) and ICs between lung metastases and corresponding primary tumors. Methods: We analyzed paired lesions from 44 patients diagnosed with lung metastases between 2005 and 2017 at Kyushu University. The percentages of PD-L1-positive TCs and ICs in lung metastases and the primary tumor were classified into five categories (0: <1%; 1: 1%–4%; 2: 5%–9%; 3: 10%–49%; and 4: ≥50%). Lesions in which ≥1% of the TCs and ICs were PD-L1-positive were considered positive. Results: The primary cancers included rectal (n = 19), colon (n = 10), liver (n = 10), bile duct (n = 2), stomach (n = 1), gall bladder (n = 1) and breast (n = 1). Discrepancies in PD-L1 expression on TCs and ICs between lung metastases and primary lesions were observed in 5 (11.4%, κ = 0.23) and 9 (20.5%, κ = 0.11) of the 44 cases, respectively. PD-L1 expression on ICs was higher in lung metastases than paired primary tumors (p = 0.026), although the percentage of PD-L1-positive TCs was not significantly different between lung metastases and primary tumors (p = 0.767). Conclusions: There were significant differences in PD-L1 expression on TCs and ICs between lung metastases and primary tumors. Clinicians should be aware of these differences in the tumor microenvironment when treating patients with immunotherapy.
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