The landscape of immune checkpoints expression in non-small cell lung cancer: A narrative review

Yu Liu, Peixin Chen, Hao Wang, Shengyu Wu, Sha Zhao, Yayi He, Caicun Zhou, Fred R. Hirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


With the increasing clinical potential of tumor immunotherapy, more and more clinical trials are undergoing with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). Immune checkpoints (ICs) have been identified as crucial regulators of the immune response and have improved ICIs-inhibitor therapeutic strategies. The most important ICs in lung cancer include programmed cell death-1 (PD-1), programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1), lymphocyte activation gene-3 (LAG-3), major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC II), T cell immunoglobulin and mucin-domain containing-3 (TIM-3), and Galectin-9 (GAL-9), OX-40, OX40L. However, the expression and prognostic value of these ICs are still controversial. Among them, high expression of PD-L1 on tumor cells (>50%) predicts a better therapeutic effect of anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody compared to patients with low PD-L1 expression. However, only 20-30% of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients seem to get benefit from immunotherapy. In order to improve the immunotherapy outcomes, more and more attention is paid to combination immunotherapy. Analyzing the co-expression of ICs can give us a more comprehensive basis for combination immunotherapy. This review article summarized our comprehensive expression of ICs based on our previous research, and analyzed their correlation with prognosis in NSCLC patients. We also provided suggestions for potentially personalized combination immunotherapy in NSCLC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-1038
Number of pages10
JournalTranslational Lung Cancer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Combination immunotherapy
  • Immune checkpoints (ICs)
  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
  • Prognosis


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