PD-L1 expression in EBV-negative diffuse large B-cell lymphoma: Clinicopathologic features and prognostic implications

Wei Xing, Karen Dresser, Rui Zhang, Andrew M. Evens, Hongbo Yu, Bruce A. Woda, Benjamin J. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) is a cell surface glycoprotein that regulates the cellular immune response and serves as a targetable immune checkpoint molecule. PD-L1 is expressed on tumor cells and the immune microenvironment of several human malignancies, including a subset of aggressive lymphomas. We sought to investigate further the clinical and pathologic features of EBV-negative diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) cases that express PD-L1. Immunohistochemical staining using an anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody was performed on DLBCL cases from 86 patients. These patients received standard chemotherapy treatment and were followed for up to 175 months. Overall, 14 cases (16%) were considered positive for PD-L1 in tumor cells. In comparison with PD-L1 negative cases, PD-L1 positive cases had a higher rate of non-GCB type (71% vs. 30%, P=0.0060), and higher Ann Arbor stage (II-IV) (100% vs. 73%, P=0.0327). No significant differences were seen in the immunohistochemical expression of BCL2, MYC, or Ki67. Patients with tumors expressing PD-L1 demonstrated inferior overall survival (OS) upon long term follow up (P=0.0447). Both age/sex-adjusted and multivariate analyses identified PD-L1 as an independent predictor for OS (P=0.0101 and P=0.0424). There was no significant difference, however, in terms of remission rates after first treatment, relapse rates, and progression free survival between the groups. Identification of DLBCL cases that express PD-L1 may serve to select a subset of patients that could further benefit from targeted immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59976-59986
Number of pages11
Issue number37
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology


  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  • Immune checkpoint
  • Immunotherapy
  • Programmed cell death ligand 1


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