Research Papers:

Tumor PD-L1 status and CD8+ tumor-infiltrating T cells: markers of improved prognosis in oropharyngeal cancer

Astrid De Meulenaere _, Tijl Vermassen, Sandrine Aspeslagh, Philippe Deron, Fréderic Duprez, Debby Laukens, Jo Van Dorpe, Liesbeth Ferdinande and Sylvie Rottey

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:80443-80452. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.19045

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Astrid De Meulenaere1,*, Tijl Vermassen1, Sandrine Aspeslagh2, Philippe Deron3, Fréderic Duprez4, Debby Laukens5, Jo Van Dorpe6, Liesbeth Ferdinande6,* and Sylvie Rottey1,*

1Department of Medical Oncology, Ghent University Hospital, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

2DITEP, Gustave Roussy Cancer Centre, 94800 Villejuif, France

3Department of Head, Neck and Maxillo-Facial Surgery, Ghent University Hospital, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

4Department of Radiation Oncology, Ghent University Hospital, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

5Department of Internal Medicine, Ghent University Hospital, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

6Department of Pathology, Ghent University Hospital, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

*These authors are senior authors

Correspondence to:

Astrid De Meulenaere, email: [email protected]

Keywords: oropharynx, HPV, PD-L1, tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, biomarker

Received: March 06, 2017     Accepted: June 20, 2017     Published: July 06, 2017


Introduction: The aim of this study was to evaluate the expression of PD-L1 in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Its relation with clinicopathological variables, tumor infiltrating lymphocytes and survival was also determined.

Results: Positive PD-L1 status for the SP142 clone related with improved overall survival in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Tumors heavily infiltrated by tumor infiltrating lymphocytes were also linked with better outcome, and this as well for the total number of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes as for the CD3+ and CD8+ T cell count. A Cox proportional hazard model proved that solely infiltrating CD8+ T cells exhibit a positive effect on overall survival (hazard ratio = 0.31 [0.14–0.70]; P = 0.0050)

Materials and Methods: Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue from oropharyngeal tumors of 99 patients was immunohistochemically stained for PD-L1 (SP142 and 22C3 clones), CD3, CD8 and FoxP3. Expression of PD-L1, CD3, CD8, FoxP3 and HPV status were correlated with clinicopathological variables. Overall survival was determined by a log-rank (Mantel–Cox) test whereas the Cox proportional hazard model was used for multivariate analysis.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that CD8+ T lymphocytes constitute an independent prognostic marker in patients diagnosed with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. PD-L1 positivity for SP142, but not for 22C3, also tends to have a positive effect on survival in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.

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