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



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


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.


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.


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.

More about this publication

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

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