Methods: We assessed the levels of PD-L1 and HLA class I expression on HCC samples from 80 patients who had undergone hepatectomy at our institution, and evaluated the correlations between PD-L1 and HLA class I expression and patient prognosis.
Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common solid tumors worldwide. Surgery is potentially curative, but high recurrence rates worsen patient prognosis. The interaction between the proteins programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) and programmed cell death 1 ligand 1 (PD-L1) is an important immune checkpoint. The significance of PD-L1 expression and human leukocyte antigen class I (HLA class I), recognized by CD8 T cells, in the prognosis of patients with HCC remains to be determined.
Results: High HLA class I expression was correlated with significantly better recurrence-free survival (RFS), but not overall survival (OS). Multivariate analysis showed that high HLA class I expression was an independent predictor of improved RFS. Low expression of PD-L1 on HCC tended to predict better OS, but the difference was not statistically significant. PD-L1 expression on HCC correlated with the number of CD163-positive macrophages and HLA class I expression with CD3-positive cell infiltration. Univariable and multivariable analyses showed that combined PD-L1 low/HLA class I high expression on HCCs was prognostic for improved OS and RFS.
Conclusions: PD-L1 status may be a good predictor of prognosis in HCC patients with high HLA class I expression. Novel therapies targeting the PD-L1/PD-1 pathway may improve the prognosis of patients with HCC.
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