Predominance of M1 subtype among tumor-associated macrophages in phenotypically aggressive sporadic vestibular schwannoma

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OBJECTIVE

Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) have been implicated as pathologic actors in phenotypically aggressive vestibular schwannoma (VS), potentially mediated via programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1). The authors hypothesized that PD-L1 is a key regulator of the VS immune microenvironment.

METHODS

Forty-six consecutive, radiation-naïve, sporadic VSs that were subtotally resected at primary surgery were assessed via immunohistochemical analysis, including analysis of CD163 and PD-L1 expression. Pathologic data were correlated with clinical endpoints, including tumor control, facial nerve function, and complications.

RESULTS

Baseline parameters were equivalent between stable and progressive post–subtotal resection (STR) VS. CD163 percent positivity and M2 index were significantly increased among tumors that remained stable (34% vs 21%, p = 0.02; 1.13 vs 0.99, p = 0.0008), as well as patients with favorable House-Brackmann grade I or II facial nerve function (31% vs 13%, p = 0.04; 1.11 vs 0.97, p = 0.05). PD-L1 percent positivity was significantly associated with tumor progression (1% vs 11%, p = 0.01) and unfavorable House-Brackmann grade III–VI facial nerve function (1% vs 38%, p = 0.02). On multivariate analysis, PD-L1 was independently significant in all models (likelihood ratio 4.4, p = 0.04), while CD163 was dependent in all iterations.

CONCLUSIONS

In contrast to prior reports, in this study, the authors observed significantly increased levels of M1, CD163+ TAMs in association with VS that progressed after STR. Progressive tumors are characterized by increased PD-L1, potentially highlighting a mechanism of immune evasion that results in TAM deactivation, tumor growth, and further infiltration of anti-tumor immune cells. Targeting PD-1/PD-L1 may offer therapeutic promise, particularly in the setting of disease control after STR.

ABBREVIATIONS IHC = immunohistochemistry; LR = likelihood ratio; NF2 = neurofibromatosis type 2; PD-1 = programmed cell death protein 1; PD-L1 = programmed death-ligand 1; ROI = region of interest; SRS = stereotactic radiosurgery; STR = subtotal resection; TAM = tumor-associated macrophage; VS = vestibular schwannoma.
Article Information

Contributor Notes

Correspondence Michael J. Link: Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. link.michael@mayo.edu.INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online October 4, 2019; DOI: 10.3171/2019.7.JNS19879.Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.
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