Medical Oncology

, 34:94 | Cite as

Prognostic significance of PD-L1 expression on tumor cells and tumor-infiltrating mononuclear cells in upper tract urothelial carcinoma

  • Bo Zhang
  • Wei Yu
  • Xueru Feng
  • Zheng Zhao
  • Yu Fan
  • Yisen Meng
  • Shuai Hu
  • Yun Cui
  • Qun He
  • Hong Zhang
  • Dong Li
  • Zhisong He
  • Liqun Zhou
  • Jie JinEmail author
  • Wenke HanEmail author
Original Paper


Immunotherapy targeting the programmed death-1 (PD-1) receptor/PD-1 ligand (PD-L1) pathway has shown promising results in several malignancies. However, the prognostic significance of PD-L1 expression remains unknown in patients with upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC). This study aimed to evaluate PD-L1 expression and its association with clinicopathological characteristics and oncological outcomes in UTUC patients. PD-L1 expression on tumor cells and tumor-infiltrating mononuclear cells (TIMCs), and E-cadherin and N-cadherin expression on tumor cells were assessed by immunohistochemistry in a cohort of 162 patients with UTUC. Associations of PD-L1 expression on tumor cells and TIMCs with clinicopathological characteristics and cancer-specific survival (CSS) were evaluated. Out of 162 patients, 20 (12.3%) and 35 (21.6%) had positive PD-L1 expression on tumor cells and TIMCs, respectively. Decreased E-cadherin expression was associated with PD-L1 positivity on tumor cells (P = 0.048) and PD-L1 negativity on TIMCs (P = 0.033). PD-L1 expression on tumor cells was higher in patients with preoperative chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4–5 than in those with no CKD or CKD stage 1–3 (P = 0.011). PD-L1 was differentially expressed in tumor cells and TIMCs in UTUC. Multivariate analyses revealed that PD-L1 expression on tumor cells independently predicted shorter CSS (P = 0.012), whereas PD-L1 expression on TIMCs independently predicted longer CSS (P = 0.034).


Upper tract urothelial carcinoma Programmed death-ligand 1 Cancer-specific survival Immunotherapy 



This study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China to Wei Yu ( (Grant No. 81200548).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee, and the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. For this type of study, formal written consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bo Zhang
    • 1
  • Wei Yu
    • 1
  • Xueru Feng
    • 2
  • Zheng Zhao
    • 1
  • Yu Fan
    • 1
  • Yisen Meng
    • 1
  • Shuai Hu
    • 1
  • Yun Cui
    • 1
  • Qun He
    • 1
  • Hong Zhang
    • 3
  • Dong Li
    • 3
  • Zhisong He
    • 1
  • Liqun Zhou
    • 1
  • Jie Jin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wenke Han
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Urology, Peking University First Hospital, Institute of UrologyPeking University, National Urological Cancer CenterBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of GeriatricsPeking University First HospitalBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of PathologyPeking University First HospitalBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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