Characteristics and impact of programmed death-ligand 1 expression, CD8+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, and p16 status in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.Med Oncol. 2019 Jan 21; 36(2):21.MO
No predictive biomarker of immune checkpoint inhibitors in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has been well established. The impact of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression, CD8+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), and p16 status in HNSCC is unclear and may vary according to ethnicity.
HNSCC patients treated between 2007 and 2013 were reviewed. Archival tissues were retrieved for PD-L1, CD8+ TILs, and p16 analyses. PD-L1 expression was evaluated by using the validated SP142 assay on the VENTANA platform. CD8+ TILs were defined by using semiquantitative scoring.
A total of 203 patients were analyzed. PD-L1 expression was observed in 80% of patients and was significantly associated with older age (P < 0.001). A high CD8+ TIL score (≥ 6) was significantly associated with never-smoking (P = 0.020), oral cavity cancer (P < 0.001), and stage M0 at presentation (P = 0.025). The p16 status was positive in 12% of patients. Patients with a high TIL score had a significantly longer OS (P = 0.032). Patients with PD-L1 expression of 1-49% and ≥ 50% were associated with a significantly shorter OS compared with those with PD-L1 < 1% (P = 0.027 and P = 0.011, respectively). Multivariate analysis showed that PD-L1 ≥ 50% was significantly associated with a poor OS. (HR 2.98 [95% CI 1.2-7.39]; P = 0.019.) CONCLUSIONS: A high prevalence of PD-L1 expression was observed in HNSCC using the validated SP142 assay. PD-L1 expression was associated with older age, while highly PD-L1 expression (≥ 50%) was an independent prognostic factor for poor OS in anti-PD1/PD-L1 untreated HNSCC patients.