Microsatellite instability status determined by next-generation sequencing and compared with PD-L1 and tumor mutational burden in 11,348 patients


Ari Vanderwalde, David Spetzler, Nianqing Xiao, Zoran Gatalica & John Marshall

Microsatellite instability (MSI) testing identifies patients who may benefit from immune checkpoint inhibitors. We developed an MSI assay that uses data from a commercially available next-generation sequencing (NGS) panel to determine MSI status. The assay is applicable across cancer types and does not require matched samples from normal tissue. Here, we describe the MSI-NGS method and explore the relationship of MSI with tumor mutational burden (TMB) and PD-L1.

MSI examined by PCR fragment analysis and NGS was compared for 2189 matched cases. Mismatch repair status by immunohistochemistry was compared to MSI-NGS for 1986 matched cases. TMB was examined by NGS, and PD-L1 was determined by immunohistochemistry. Among 2189 matched cases that spanned 26 cancer types, MSI-NGS, as compared to MSI by PCR fragment analysis, had sensitivity of 95.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] 92.24, 98.08), specificity of 99.4% (95% CI 98.94, 99.69), positive predictive value of 94.5% (95% CI 90.62, 97.14), and negative predictive value of 99.2% (95% CI, 98.75, 99.57). High MSI (MSI-H) status was identified in 23 of 26 cancer types. Among 11,348 cases examined (including the 2189 matched cases), the overall rates of MSI-H, TMB-high, and PD-L1positivity were 3.0%, 7.7%, and 25.4%, respectively. Thirty percent of MSI-H cases were TMB-low, and only 26% of MSI-H cases were PD-L1 positive. The overlap between TMB, MSI, and PD-L1 differed among cancer types. Only 0.6% of the cases were positive for all three markers. MSI-H status can be determined by NGS across cancer types. MSI-H offers distinct data for treatment decisions regarding immune checkpoint inhibitors, in addition to the data available from TMB and PD-L1.

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