PD-1 is expressed by tumor-infiltrating immune cells and is associated with poor outcome for patients with renal cell carcinoma

R. Houston Thompson, Haidong Dong, Christine M. Lohse, Bradley C. Leibovich, Michael L. Blute, John C. Cheville, Eugene D. Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

404 Scopus citations


Purpose: B7-H1 is expressed by clinically aggressive forms of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and predicts adverse outcome. B7-H1 is known to impair host immunity via interaction with the Programmed Death-1 (PD-1) receptor, which is expressed by activated T cells. Levels of immune cells expressing PD-1 (PD-1+) in clinical RCC tumors have not been evaluated. Thus, we tested whether immune cell PD-1 expression is observed within aggressive RCC tumors. Experimental Design: Between 2000 and 2003, 267 patients underwent nephrectomy at our institution for clear cell RCC and had fresh-frozen tissue available for review. These RCC specimens were immunostained using anti - PD-1 (clone MIH4) and outcome analyses were conducted. Results: Mononuclear immune cell infiltration was observed in 136 (50.9%) specimens. PD-1+ immune cells were present in 77 of these 136 (56.6%) tumors. In contrast, RCC tumor cells did not express PD-1. Patients with PD-1+ immune cells were significantly more likely to harbor B7-H1+ tumor cells (P < 0.001), larger tumors (P = 0.001), and tumors of higher nuclear grade (P = 0.001). Likewise, intratumoral PD-1+ immune cells were associated with advanced tumor-node-metastasis stage (P = 0.005), coagulative tumor necrosis (P =0.027), and sarcomatoid differentiation (P = 0.008). With a median follow-up of 2.9 years, 52 patients died from RCC. Univariately, patients with PD-1+ immune cells were at significant risk of cancer-specific death compared with PD-1-patients (risk ratio, 2.24; P = 0.004). Conclusions: Levels of immune cells expressing PD-1 were increased in patients with high-risk RCC tumors. Interactions between immune cell PD-1 and B7-H1 may promote cancer progression by contributing to immune dysfunction in patients with RCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1757-1761
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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