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

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


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Down-Regulation
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prognosis


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I