Previous studies investigated the prognostic role of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression in patients with biliary tract cancer (BTC); however, the results remained controversial. Therefore, we conducted the current meta-analysis with the aim of clarifying the association between PD-L1 expression and prognosis as well as with several important clinicopathological features of BTC. We searched PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science for relevant studies. Studies that detected PD-L1 expression in tumor cells by using immunohistochemistry (IHC) were selected. Pooled hazard ratios (HRs) and pooled odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated to estimate the correlations. In total, 15 independent studies with 1,776 patients were included in this meta-analysis. The pooled data demonstrated that high PD-L1 expression was associated with poor overall survival (n=15, HR=1.79, 95% CI=1.55-2.07, p<0.001). The correlation between PD-L1 expression and disease-free survival was not significant (n=6, HR=1.38, 95% CI=1.00-1.91, p=0.051). In addition, no significant correlation was observed between PD-L1 expression and clinical features in patients with BTC. Our study results showed that PD-L1 expression could play a pivotal role as an effective factor of poor prognosis in patients with BTC.
Keywords: PD-L1; biliary tract cancer; meta-analysis; survival.