Disruption of her2-induced pd-l1 inhibits tumor cell immune evasion in patient-derived gastric cancer organoids

Jayati Chakrabarti, Vivien Koh, Nina Steele, Jennifer Hawkins, Yoshiaki Ito, Juanita L. Merchant, Jiang Wang, Michael A. Helmrath, Syed A. Ahmad, Jimmy Bok Yan So, Wei Peng Yong, Yana Zavros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


(1) Background: The expression of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), which interacts with programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) on cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), enables tumors to escape immunosurveillance. The PD-1/PD-L1 interaction results in the inhibition of CTL prolifera-tion, and effector function, thus promoting tumor cell evasion from immunosurveillance and cancer persistence. Despite 40% of gastric cancer patients exhibiting PD-L1 expression, only a small subset of patients responds to immunotherapy. Human epidermal growth factor receptor2 (HER2) is one of the critical regulators of several solid tumors, including metastatic gastric cancer. Although half of PD-L1-positive gastric tumors co-express HER2, crosstalk between HER2 and PD-1/PD-L1 in gastric cancer remains undetermined. (2) Methods: Human gastric cancer organoids (huTGOs) were generated from biopsied or resected tissues and co-cultured with CTLs and myeloid-derived sup-pressor cells (MDSCs). Digital Spatial Profiling (DSP) was performed on FFPE tissue microarrays of numerous gastric cancer patients to examine the protein expression of immune markers. (3) Results: Knockdown of HER2 in PD-L1/HER2-positive huTGOs led to a concomitant decrease in PD-L1 expression. Similarly, in huTGOs/immune cell co-cultures, PD-L1 expression decreased in huTGOs and was correlated with an increase in CTL proliferation which enhanced huTGO death. Treatment with Nivolumab exhibited similar effects. However, a combinatorial treatment with Mubritinib and Nivolumab was unable to inhibit HER2 expression in co-cultures containing MDSCs. (4) Conclusions: Our study suggested that co-expression of HER2 and PD-L1 may contribute to tumor cell immune evasion. In addition, autologous organoid/immune cell co-cultures can be exploited to effectively screen responses to a combination of anti-HER2 and immunotherapy to tailor treatment for gastric cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6158
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Myeloid-derived suppressor cells
  • Organoid-immune cell co-culture
  • PD-L1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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