HLA class II expression on tumor cells and low numbers of tumor-associated macrophages predict clinical outcome in oropharyngeal cancer.



A comprehensive multivariate analysis with clinical and immune variables (human leukocyte antigen [HLA] I/II, programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1), programmed death receptor 1 (PD1), T cells, and macrophages) was performed in 142 OPSCC patients.


Human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) is a highly immunogenic tumor and differences in tumor microenvironment might contribute to the improved survival of HPV-positive OPSCC patient.


We found an inverse correlation between the expression of HLA class II molecules on tumor cells and CD68+ CD163+ tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). High HLA-DP/DQ/DR expression and low number of TAMs were associated with longer disease-specific survival and disease-free survival (DFS). Furthermore, a new population of CD8+ FoxP3+ T cells was correlated with shorter DFS in multivariate analysis.


\We identified new prognostic markers for patients with oropharyngeal cancer, which can be used for selecting patients that can benefit from immunotherapy.

More about this publication

Head & neck
  • Volume 41
  • Issue nr. 2
  • Pages 463-478
  • Publication date 01-02-2019

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