Background: PD-L1 represents a crucial immune checkpoint molecule in the tumor microenvironment, identified as a key target for cancer immunotherapy. A correlation between PD-L1 and EMT-related genes expression in various human cancers has been suggested. Methods: By ScreenCell filtration, digital droplet PCR and confocal microscopy analysis, we aimed to investigate the expression of PD-L1 and EMT/invasive genes (TWIST1, ZEB1, VIMENTIN, TIMP2) in circulating tumor cells (CTCs) collected from the blood of non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) patients, assessing the prognostic value of these biomarkers in the disease. Welchs’ test and Mann–Whitney U test, correlation index, Kaplan–Meier, Univariate and Multivariate Cox hazard proportional analysis were used. Results: Higher PD-L1, TIMP2 and VIM mRNA levels were found in pT1 compared to pTa NMIBC. As evaluated by Kaplan–Meier and Univariate and Multivariate Cox analysis, enhancement of PD-L1, TWIST1 and TIMP2 expression reduces the recurrent free survival in NMIBC patients. Conclusions: High PD-L1, TWIST1 and TIMP2 mRNAs mark the recurrent-NMIBC patients and by reducing the RFS represent negative prognostic biomarkers in these patients.
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