Introduction: Gastric intestinal metaplasia (GIM) is a premalignant lesion, highly associated with Helicobacter pylori infection. Previous studies have shown that H. pylori is able to induce the expression of programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1), an inhibitory immune modulator, in gastric cells. Our aim was to investigate whether tissues from GIM patients may exploit PD-L1 expression upon H. pylori infection to evade immunosurveillance. Methods: Immunohistochemistry was performed for PD-L1 and enteroendocrine markers somatostatin and gastrin on samples derived from a cohort of patients with known GIM, both before and after H. pylori eradication. To determine the identity of any observed PD-L1-positive cells, we performed multiplex immunofluorescent staining and analysis of single-cell sequencing data. Results: GIM tissue was rarely positive for PD-L1. In normal glands from GIM patients, PD-L1 was mainly expressed by gastrin-positive G-cells. While the D-cell and G-cell compartments were both diminished 2-fold (p =.015 and p =.01, respectively) during H. pylori infection in the normal antral tissue of GIM patients, they were restored 1 year after eradication. The total number of PD-L1-positive cells was not affected by H. pylori, but the percentage of PD-L1-positive G-cells was 30% higher in infected subjects (p =.011), suggesting that these cells are preferentially rescued from destruction. Conclusions: Antral G-cells frequently express PD-L1 during homeostasis. G-cells seem to be protected from H. pylori-induced immune destruction by PD-L1 expression. GIM itself does not express PD-L1 and is unlikely to escape immunosurveillance via expression of PD-L1.
The authors thank Ms. Naomi Delleman for her contribution to the graphical abstract (created with Biorender.com).
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