PD-L1 expression in colorectal cancer defines three subsets of tumor immune microenvironments

Anna Maria Valentini, Federica Di Pinto, Filomena Cariola, Vito Guerra, Gianluigi Giannelli, Maria Lucia Caruso, Michele Pirrelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: We investigated the PD-L1 expression in colorectal cancer (CRC) and in its microenvironment. Results: PD-L1 was expressed in neoplastic cells (NCs) and tumor-infiltrating immune cells (IICs). All samples PD-L1+ on NCs were also on IICs. Three types of cancers could be grouped: group A(NCs-/ IICs-); group B (NCs-/ IICs+); group C (NCs+/IICs+). To group A belong tumors characterized by poorly immunogenic competence, poor immune response but massive granulocyte infiltrate, justifying the absence of PD-L1 as an immunoinhibitor receptor. To Group B probably belong more immunogenic CRCs, justifying the strong IICs-mediated immune response, and up-regulation of PD-L1 expression only on IICs. To group C belong CRCs probably characterized by a large amount of tumor neoantigens resulting in a marked infiltration of lymphocytes and PD-L1 upregulation also in NCs. Materials and Methods: Sixty-three colorectal cancer specimens from a cohort of 61 patients were retrospectively reviewed. Thirty-seven MSS and 26 MSI-H CRCs enrolled in this study. Immunohistochemical staining to PD-L1 was performed by using MAb E1L3N. Conclusions: Our study calls attention to the importance to assess PD-L1 expression in tumor microenvironment also evaluating type and density of infiltrating immune cells to better stratify CRCs with different immunological patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8584-8596
Number of pages13
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microsatellite instability
  • PD-1
  • PD-L1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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