Background: Even with the advance of diagnosis and the treatment, the 5-year survival rate for esophageal cancer patients is still poor. The checkpoint protein inhibition provides another choice to improve the survival. The expression of the programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) was reported but the clinical relevance remained inconsistent in esophageal cancer. Besides, there were few references about the other ligand, programed death ligand-2 (PD-L2). In this study, we evaluated the expressions of PD-L1 and PD-L2 in patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and assessed their clinical relevance. Methods: From 1996 to 2011, 150 patients undergone complete surgical resection for ESCC were enrolled. Clinical data were recorded. Expression of PD-L1 and PD-L2 on cytoplasm in paraffin embedded tumor samples were analyzed by immunohistochemistry staining and scored with a semi-quantitative method. Results: Of the patients, 96 (64.0%) patients had PD-L1 overexpression and 63 (42.0%) had PD-L2 overexpression. There was a correlation between the expression of PD-L1 and PD-L2 (P<0.001). Patients without overexpression of PD-L1, pathological T1-2 and N0 status, pathological stage I-II and no postoperative adjuvant treatment had a better disease free survival (DFS). In multivariate analysis, PD-L1 expression and pathological stage were the independent prognostic factors for DFS. The expression of PDL2 did not influence the DFS. Although not statistically significant, patients without overexpression of PDL1 and PD-L2 seem to have a better overall survival (OS). Conclusions: The overexpression of PD-L1 on cytoplasm, not PD-L2, is an independent prognostic factor for DFS in patients with ESCC undergone esophagectomy. However, there is a trend which suggested that patients without overexpression of PD-L1 and PD-L2 had a better OS.
- Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC)
- Programed death ligand-2 (PD-L2)
- Programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1)