Frequent PD-L1 expression in testicular germ cell tumors

Br J Cancer. 2015 Jul 28;113(3):411-3. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2015.244. Epub 2015 Jul 14.


Background: Many testicular germ cell cancers are curable despite metastatic disease, but about 10-15% of patients fail cisplatin-based first-line treatment. Immunotherapy is considered as additional treatment approach for these patients. Inhibition of the interaction between Programmed Death Receptor 1 (PD-1) and Programmed Death Receptor Ligand 1 (PD-L1) enhances T-cell responses in vitro and mediates clinical antitumour activity. We analysed the expression of PD-L1 in testicular germ cell tumours to evaluate its potential as target for immunotherapeutic strategies.

Methods: Immunohistochemistry was performed in 479 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded specimens using a rabbit monoclonal antibody (E1L3N). The tissue microarray consisted of 208 pure seminomas, 121 non-seminomas, 20 intratubular germ cell neoplasia unclassified (IGCNU) and 20 specimens of non-neoplastic testicular tissue.

Results: Programmed Death Receptor Ligand-1 expression was found in 73% of all seminomas and in 64% of all non-seminomas. None of 20 IGCNU and none of 20 normal tissue specimens exhibited PD-L1 expression. PD-L1 positive stromal cells were only detected in seminomas, but not in non-seminomas. The anti PD-L1 antibody showed a pre-dominantly membranous staining pattern in testicular tumour cells, as well as expression in stromal cells.

Conclusions: This frequent expression of PD-L1 in human testicular germ cell tumours suggests that patients with testicular germ cell tumours could profit from immunotherapeutic strategies using anti-PD1 and anti-PDL1 antibodies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • B7-H1 Antigen / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / pathology
  • Seminoma / epidemiology
  • Seminoma / metabolism
  • Seminoma / pathology
  • Testicular Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / pathology
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Testis / pathology
  • Tissue Array Analysis
  • Young Adult


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • CD274 protein, human

Supplementary concepts

  • Testicular Germ Cell Tumor