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PLoS One. 2017 Apr 28;12(4):e0176822. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176822. eCollection 2017.

Prognostic value of PD-L1 expression in tumor infiltrating immune cells in cancers: A meta-analysis.

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Department of Endoscopy Center, China-Japan Union Hospital of Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin, China.
Division of Clinical Research, First Hospital of Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin, China.
Jilin Provincial Key Laboratory on Molecular and Chemical Genetics, The Second Hospital of Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin, China.


Programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) is a promising target of cancer immune therapy. It not only expressed in tumor cells (TCs) but also up regulated in tumor infiltrating immune cells (TIICs). Although the previous meta-analysis have shown that PD-L1 expression in TCs was a valuable biomarker in predicting cancer prognosis, but few researches systematic evaluated the association between its expression in TIICs and survival of cancer patients. Thus, we performed this meta-analysis to evaluate the prognostic value of PD-L1 expression in TIICs in different types of cancers. Our results are valuable supplements when using PD-L1 expression to predict the survival of cancer patients and to select the beneficial patients from PD-L1 target therapy. PubMed, Embase, Web of Science and the Cochrane Central Search Library were used to perform our systematic literature search. Overall survival (OS) at 5th years and hazard ratios (HRs) were calculated using random effects models. Eighteen studies involving 3674 patients were included. The median positive rate of PD-L1 staining in TIICs was 36.37%. PD-L1 positive expression in TIICs related to a lower risk of death (HR = 0.784, 95%CI: 0.616-0.997, P = 0.047). Subgroup analyses found that PD-L1 positive expression in TIICs indicated a better prognosis especially in breast cancer patients (HR = 0.359, P = 0.041). When using whole tissue section slides, or using 'any expression in TIICs' as a cutoff value to assessing the results of IHC staining, PD-L1 expression in TIICs had a good prognostic value in cancer prognosis (HR = 0.587, P = 0.001 and HR = 0.549, P = 0.002). Our findings suggested that PD-L1 expression in TIICs was related to a better survival of cancer. The comprehensive evaluation of tumor cells and tumor infiltrating immune cells are required when evaluating the effect of PD-L1 expression on prognosis of cancer in future research.

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