PD-L1 expression in pancreaticobiliary adenosquamous carcinoma: a single-institution case series

Jeremy D. Ward, Mark Fowler, Ariannette Robledo-Gomez, Shaun Goodyear, Adel Kardosh, Eizaburo Sasatomi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1)/programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) pathway is a potent negative regulator of T-cell-mediated immune response that is upregulated in many neoplasms. Pancreaticobiliary adenosquamous carcinoma (PB-ASC) is an aggressive cancer that carries a poorer prognosis compared with pure pancreaticobiliary adenocarcinoma (PB-AC). To date, there is little published information regarding PD-L1 expression in PB-ASC. The aim of the study was to examine the relationship between PD-L1 expression and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in PB-ASC and PB-AC. Methods: We evaluated 15 PB-ASCs (10 pancreatic, 5 gallbladder) and 34 control PB-ACs (22 pancreatic ductal, and 12 gallbladder) for tumor expression of PD-L1 using anti-PD-L1 (E1L3N) antibody. All tumors were classified into three immune phenotypes: immune inflamed (II), immune excluded (IE), and immune desert (ID) according to the distribution of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in tumor tissues. Results: The frequency of PD-L1 expression was significantly higher in PB-ASC (10/15; 66.7%) than in PB-AC (3/34; 8.8%). In PB-ASC, PD-L1 expression occurred exclusively in the squamous component in six cases, exclusively in the glandular component in one case, and in both the squamous and the glandular components in three cases. PD-L1 expression in PB-ASC was irrespective of the tumor immune status, whereas its expression in PB-AC was observed only in tumors with the II or IE phenotype. The ID phenotype was relatively rare (4/15; 26.7%) in PB-ASC compared with PB-AC (22/34; 65%; P=0.02). Conclusions: PB-ASCs are notably enriched in inflammatory response and showed significantly higher PD-L1 expression than PB-AC (P<0.001), suggesting a potential therapeutic role for immune checkpoint inhibitors in managing patients with PB-ASC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)768-779
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • adenosquamous carcinoma (ACC)
  • Pancreaticobiliary carcinoma
  • programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1)
  • squamous differentiation
  • tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Gastroenterology


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