PD-L1 expression in tongue squamous cell carcinoma

Naoki Akisada, Kohei Nishimoto, Soshi Takao, Yuka Gion, Hidenori Marunaka, Tomoyasu Tachibana, Takuma Makino, Kentaro Miki, Yusuke Akagi, Munechika Tsumura, Tomohiro Toji, Tadashi Yoshino, Kazunori Nishizaki, Yorihisa Orita, Yasuharu Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Immune checkpoint proteins programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) and programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) are important therapeutic targets for head and neck cancer. This large-scale case study aimed to analyze tongue squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) and evaluate the correlation between PD-L1 expression and clinical prognosis. So far, this study is the largest case study on PD-L1 expression in tongue SCCs. Methods: This is a case–control study that analyzed 121 tongue SCCs. Paraffin-embedded sections and clinical data were obtained retrospectively and immunohistochemistry with PD-L1 was performed. Results: 11.6% contained ≥ 50% of PD-L1-positive cells, 57.1% of these cases had a poor prognosis with nodal metastasis. Among cases of T1/2 primary lesions with nodal metastasis, cases of high PD-L1 expression had a significantly shorter disease-free survival than cases of no PD-L1 expression (p = 0.018). The hazard ratio for high PD-L1 expression was 3.21 (95 per cent CI, 1.26–8.72) compared with no PD-L1 expression after adjusting for other factors. Conclusions: These data indicate that PD-L1 upregulation in tongue SCCs is associated with a more advanced stage and shorter disease-free survival. PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors might hence constitute potential adjuvant therapy for tongue SCCs with PD-L1 upregulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-59
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Molecular Morphology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Adjuvant therapy
  • Nodal metastasis
  • Programmed cell death 1
  • Programmed cell death 1 ligand
  • Tongue squamous cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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