Diagnostic Utility of the PD-L1 Immunostaining in Biopsy Specimens of Patients with Biliary Tract Neoplasms

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Background: Anti-programmed death 1/programmed death ligand 1 (PD1/PD-L1) antibodies have been successfully used as treatment agents for several solid tumors; however, it is difficult to predict their effectiveness. We evaluated whether biopsy specimens could predict the positive status of PD-L1 in surgically resected tissue. Methods: Among 91 patients who underwent tissue sampling with endoscopic or liver biopsy before surgery for biliary tract neoplasms in an academic center, 45 (49%) patients were selected for retrospective analysis because the quality and quantity of their biopsy specimens were adequate for histologic evaluation. We performed immunohistochemical staining to investigate the PD-L1 expression in both resected and biopsy specimens. The percentage of the positively stained cells was calculated for subsequent use in the correlation investigation. Results: The biopsy methods were endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) in 28 cases, percutaneous liver biopsy in 10 cases, and endoscopic ultrasound fine-needle aspiration in 7 cases. Among the 45 patients, when patients with > 10% positive tumor cells in surgically resected tissues were regarded as truly positive PD-L1, the positive and negative concordance rates between surgically resected tissues and biopsy samples were 56% (5/9) and 100% (36/36), respectively. With regard to the use of preoperative biopsy as a diagnostic tool, all (5/5) PD-L1-positive patients had a positive resected specimen. The accuracy of each biopsy method was as follows: ERCP, 89% (25/28); fine-needle aspiration, 86% (6/7); and liver biopsy, 100% (10/10). Conclusions: Biopsy samples could be a surrogate material for the assessment of the PD-L1 expression with substantial positive and high negative concordance rates.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Bile tract neoplasm
  • Biopsy specimen
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Programmed death ligand 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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