PD-L1 expression, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, mismatch repair deficiency, EGFR alteration and HPV infection in sinonasal squamous cell carcinoma

Takahiro Hongo, Hidetaka Yamamoto, Rina Jiromaru, Ryuji Yasumatsu, Ryosuke Kuga, Yui Nozaki, Kazuki Hashimoto, Mioko Matsuo, Takahiro Wakasaki, Akihiro Tamae, Kenichi Taguchi, Satoshi Toh, Muneyuki Masuda, Takashi Nakagawa, Yoshinao Oda

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The antitumor efficacies of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) and the usefulness of potential predictive markers such as programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression, density of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and microsatellite instability (MSI) in sinonasal squamous cell carcinoma (SNSCC) have not been fully elucidated. We retrospectively analyzed 131 SNSCCs with immunohistochemistry for PD-L1 expression, TIL subpopulations and loss of mismatch repair (MMR) proteins as a surrogate for MSI-high. We also comprehensively evaluated the mutual relationships among these immuno-markers, high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene status, and KRAS mutation. PD-L1 expression (tumor proportion score ≥ 1%) was detected in 60 (45.8%) SNSCC cases and was significantly associated with worse overall survival (OS) (p = 0.0240). High density of cluster of differentiation 8 (CD8)-positive TILs was significantly associated with better progression-free survival (PFS) (p = 0.0368), and high density of forkhead box protein P3-positive TILs was significantly associated with better PFS and OS (p = 0.0007 and 0.0143, respectively). With respect to the combination of CD8 + TIL and PD-L1 expression, the high-CD8/PD-L1-negative group showed the most favorable prognosis, whereas the low-CD8/PD-L1-positive group showed the worst prognosis. MMR loss was detected in 3 (2.3%) of the 131 cases. HPV infection (6.1%), EGFR mutation (14.5%), EGFR copy number gain (26%), and MMR loss were essentially mutually exclusive; patients in these molecular groups showed significant differences in prognosis but not in the degree of PD-L1 expression or TILs. Among the nine ICI-treated patients, three (33.3%) were responders, and the EGFR-wild type cases (n = 7) showed better clinical responses to an ICI compared to the EGFR-mutant cases (n = 2). Among the patients with residual/recurrent EGFR-wild type tumors (n = 43), ICI treatment significantly improved OS (p = 0.0281). The results suggest that the evaluation of immuno-markers and molecular subclassification may be helpful for prognostic prediction and selecting an individualized therapeutic strategy for patients with SNSCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1966-1978
Number of pages13
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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