Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research

PD-L1 and HLA Class I Antigen Expression and Clinical Course of the Disease in Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma.

PMID 26373575


More effective therapy is needed for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC). The encouraging clinical results obtained with checkpoint molecule-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAb) have prompted us to investigate whether this type of immunotherapy may be applicable to ICC. The aims of this study were to determine whether (i) patients mount a T-cell immune response to their ICC, (ii) checkpoint molecules are expressed on both T cells and tumor cells, and (iii) tumor cells are susceptible to recognition by cognate T cells. Twenty-seven ICC tumors were analyzed for (i) lymphocyte infiltrate, (ii) HLA class I and HLA class II expression, and (iii) PD-1 and PD-L1 expression by T cells and ICC cells, respectively. The results of this analysis were correlated with the clinicopathologic characteristics of the patients investigated. Lymphocyte infiltrates were identified in all tumors. PD-L1 expression and HLA class I antigen expression by ICC cells was observed in 8 and 11, respectively, of the 27 tumors analyzed. HLA class I antigen expression correlated with CD8(+) T-cell infiltrate. Furthermore, positive HLA class I antigen expression in combination with negative/rare PD-L1 expression was associated with favorable clinical course of the disease. ICC patients are likely to mount a T-cell immune response against their own tumors. Defects in HLA class I antigen expression in combination with PD-L1 expression by ICC cells provide them with an immune escape mechanism. This mechanism justifies the implementation of immunotherapy with checkpoint molecule-specific mAbs in patients bearing ICC tumors without defects in HLA class I antigen expression.