Enhanced programmed death 1 (PD-1) and PD-1 ligand (PD-L1) expression in patients with actinic cheilitis and oral squamous cell carcinoma

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2011 Jul;60(7):965-74. doi: 10.1007/s00262-011-1007-5. Epub 2011 Mar 27.


PD-1 and PD-L1 can be involved in tumor escape, and little is known about the role of these molecules in oral tumors or pre-malignant lesions. In the present study, we investigated the expression of PD-1 and PD-L1 in the blood and lesion samples of patients with actinic cheilitis (AC) and oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Our results showed that lymphocytes from peripheral blood and tissue samples exhibited high expression of PD-1 in both groups analyzed. Patients with AC presented higher percentage as well as the absolute numbers of CD4+PD-1+ and CD8+PD-1+ lymphocytes in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) than healthy individuals, while patients with OSCC presented an increased frequency of CD8+PD1+ in PBMC when compared with controls. On the other hand, increased frequency of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells expressing PD-1(+) accumulate in samples from OSCC, and the expression of PD-L1 was intense in OSCC and moderate in AC lesion sites. Lower levels of IFN-γ and higher levels of TGF-β were detected in OSCC samples. Our data demonstrate that PD-1 and PD-L1 molecules are present in blood and samples of AC and OSCC patients. Further studies are required to understand the significance of PD-1 and PD-L1 in oral tumors microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism*
  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cheilitis / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gingiva / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Prognosis
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • Survival Rate
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Antigens, CD
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • CD274 protein, human
  • Cytokines
  • PDCD1 protein, human
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor

Supplementary concepts

  • Actinic cheilitis