Send to

Choose Destination
Oncotarget. 2016 Mar 29;7(13):15901-14. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.7431.

PD-L1 expression is associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

Author information

Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Pathology, Seoul National University Hospital Seoul, Korea.
Cancer Research Institute, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, South Korea.
Department of Systems Biology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, South Korea.


Virus-associated malignancies and sarcomatoid cancers correlate with high PD-L1 expression, however, underlying mechanisms remain controversial. We evaluated the correlation between PD-L1 expression and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC).Tumor tissues from 50 patients with HNSCC were evaluated for PD-L1 by immunohistochemistry, which showed 32 (64.0%) were PD-L1 positive (PD-L1+). Interestingly, PD-L1 expression was significantly associated with EMT (P = 0.010), as assessed by low E-cadherin and high vimentin expression. The overall survival of PD-L1+ patients with EMT features was significantly worse than those without EMT features (P = 0.007). In an independent validation cohort (N = 91), as well as in HNSCC cases of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia, high PD-L1 expression was also associated with the high probability of an EMT signature, referred from the GEO dataset, GSE4824. Survival analysis confirmed PD-L1+/EMT+ patients had a poorer prognosis than PD-L1+/EMT- patients in the TCGA cohort. PD-L1 positivity can thus be divided into two categories according to the absence or presence of EMT. PD-L1 expression is also independently associated with EMT features in HNSCC.


PD-L1; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; head and neck; p16; squamous

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Impact Journals, LLC Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center