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Novel miRNAs as Potential Regulators of PD-1/PD-L1 Immune Checkpoint, and Prognostic Value of MIR9-1 and MIR124-2 Methylation in Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer (OC) is mostly detected at late stages weighed down with metastasis, and the five-year survival rate of patients is only 30%, which dictates the necessity to develop gentler and more selectively targeted drugs that current chemotherapeutic agents. The search for factors that can influence on the activity of the PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoint signaling pathway in tumors is relevant, and micro RNAs (miRNAs) play an important role in it. Over the past 5 years, only a few miRNAs (miR-34a, miR-145, and miR-424), which have a regulatory effect on the PD-1/PD-L1 system in OC patients, have been discovered. In present work, the methylation levels of 13 miRNA genes in 26 primary tumors and 19 peritoneal metastases of OC patients were determined and compared with the level of the soluble form of PD-L1 (sPD-L1) in the blood plasma of the same patients. It was shown that the methylation levels of five miRNA genes (MIR124-2, MIR34B/C, MIR9-1, MIR9-3, and MIR339) in tumors are in direct correlation with the sPD-L1 level in the blood plasma. In addition, when analyzing these five genes, a significant association of the methylation level of the MIR9-1 gene with a decrease in the three-year relapse-free survival, and a trend for decrease in the three-year survival rate with the methylation level of the MIR124-2 gene of OC patients were determined. Thus, the first data suggesting the role of inhibitors of the sPD-L1 immune checkpoint for five miRNAs (miR-124, miR-34b, miR-34c, miR-9, miR-339) and the possibility of using hypermethylated MIR9-1 and, presumably, MIR124-2 genes as independent prognostic markers of poor disease-free survival in OC patients were obtained.

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