Programmed death ligand-1 expression is associated with poor disease free survival in salivary gland carcinomas

J Surg Oncol. 2016 Jul;114(1):36-43. doi: 10.1002/jso.24266. Epub 2016 Apr 25.


Background and objectives: The immune checkpoint ligand programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) is expressed in various carcinomas and allows carcinoma cells to elude the immune system. PD-L1 expression is associated with the response to anti-programmed death 1 (PD-1)/PD-L1 drugs. This study aimed to clarify the relationship between PD-L1 expression and clinicopathological factors of salivary gland carcinomas (SGCs) and identify its clinical significance.

Methods: PD-L1 expression was examined by immunohistochemical analysis using a tissue microarray comprised of 219 surgically resected SGC specimens. Detailed clinicopathological factors, including patient outcome, were available for all cases.

Results: A case showing complete membranous expression of PD-L1 in more than 1% of whole carcinoma cells was considered positive by ROC analysis. A total of 50 (22.8%) patients showed PD-L1 expression in SGC cells. Positive PD-L1 expression was significantly associated with poor disease free survival (P < 0.001) and overall survival (P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed that positive PD-L1 expression was one of the independent predictors for poor disease free survival (hazard ratio = 2.287, 95% confidence interval = 1.24-4.15; P = 0.008).

Conclusions: Positive PD-L1 expression was significantly associated with poor disease free survival of SGCs, suggesting that antibody therapies targeting PD-1/PD-L1 may have potential application in SGCs. J. Surg. Oncol. 2016;114:36-43. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: immunotherapy; prognosis; programmed death 1 (PD-1); programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1); salivary gland carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • B7-H1 Antigen / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma / metabolism
  • Carcinoma / mortality
  • Carcinoma / surgery*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / mortality
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Tissue Array Analysis
  • Young Adult


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CD274 protein, human