Tumor microenvironment predicts local tumor extensiveness in PD-L1 positive nasopharyngeal cancer

PLoS One. 2020 Mar 19;15(3):e0230449. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0230449. eCollection 2020.


Tumor microenvironment have been implicated in many kind of cancers to hold an important role in determining treatment success especially with immunotherapy. In nasopharyngeal cancer, the prognostic role of this immune cells within tumor microenvironment is still doubtful. We conducted a study that included 25 nasopharyngeal cancer biopsy specimens to seek a more direct relationship between tumor infiltrating immune cells and tumor progression. Apart from that, we also checked the PD-L1 protein through immunohistochemistry. The PD-L1 was positively expressed in all our 25 samples with nasopharyngeal cancer WHO type 3 histology. Majority samples have >50% PD-L1 expression in tumor cells. We also found that denser local tumor infiltrating immune cells population have relatively much smaller local tumor volume. The inverse applied, with the mean local tumor volumes were 181.92 cm3 ± 81.45 cm3, 117.13 cm3 ± 88.72 cm3, and 55.13 cm3 ± 25.06 cm3 for mild, moderate, and heavy immune cells infiltration respectively (p = 0.013). Therefore, we concluded that tumor infiltrating immune cells play an important role in tumor progression, hence evaluating this simple and predictive factor may provide us with some valuable prognostic information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B7-H1 Antigen / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Tumor Burden
  • Tumor Microenvironment*


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • CD274 protein, human

Grant support

The grant for this study was received by SAG from Directorate of Research and Community Engagement, Universitas Indonesia. The funder played no role in study design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. URL of funder: https://research.ui.ac.id/research/en/home-en/