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Br J Cancer. 2008 Nov 4;99(9):1462-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604715. Epub 2008 Oct 7.

Downregulation of HLA Class I molecules in the tumour is associated with a poor prognosis in patients with oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

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First Department of Surgery, University of Yamanashi, 1110 Shimokato, Chuo-city, Yamanashi 409-3898, Japan.


As antigenic peptides in the context of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules are recognised by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), the downregulation of HLA class I molecules is one of the reasons why tumour cells can evade CTL-mediated anti-tumour immunity. In this study, we investigated HLA class I expression in oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) (n=70) and in their metastatic lesions (lymph nodes (n=40) and liver (n=3)), by immunohistochemistry with anti-HLA class I monoclonal antibody (EMR8-5). As a result, the downregulation of HLA class I expression in primary lesions of ESCC was observed in 43%, and that in metastatic lymph nodes was noted in 90%. Furthermore, patients with preserved HLA class I expression in primary tumours showed a better survival in comparison to those with downregulated HLA class I molecules (P<0.01). Furthermore, multivariate analysis using Cox's proportional hazards model revealed that the downregulated expression of HLA class I in primary lesions was an independent, unfavourable prognostic factor (P<0.01). In conclusion, the downregulation of HLA class I expression frequently occurred in primary tumour and, to a greater extent, in metastatic lesions of patients with ESCC and was associated with patient survival.

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