The following article features coverage from the American Thyroid Association (ATA) 2018 meeting. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

High serum soluble PD-L1 (sPD-L1) expression is associated with shorter disease-free survival (DFS) among patients with papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), according to a study presented at the 88th Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association in Washington, D.C.1

“Our study is the first to confirm that elevated serum sPD-L1 expression is significantly associated with DFS in PTC,” the authors wrote.

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High tumor expression of PD-L1 is associated with poor prognosis in thyroid cancer, and sPD-L1 has been shown to be involved in cancer pathogenesis. It is currently unknown whether sPD-L1 is associated with thyroid cancer. The aim of this study was to determine if sPD-L1 serum levels are prognostic in PTC.

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The study included 101 patients with confirmed PTC. Pretreatment serum sPD-L1 and PD-L1 tumor expression were analyzed. PD-L1 positivity was defined as staining of at least 5% tumor cells.

Patients with PTC demonstrated significantly greater levels of sPD-L1 at 0.48 ng/mL compared with 0.37 ng/mL in healthy controls (P = .028). Elevated sPD-L1 was also associated with extrathyroidal extension (P = .015).

Among patients with PTC, higher levels of sPD-L1 was significantly associated with shorter DFS at 14 months compared with 22 months with lower levels of sPD-L1 (P = .011). Serum sPD-L1 was the only factor predictive of DFS in this study.

The authors concluded that “sPD-L1 may provide clinicians with a noninvasive biomarker that can lessen dependence on tissue biopsy and identify aggressive thyroid cancers at an earlier stage.” They noted that sPD-L1 may also be a biomarker to help predict response to PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in PTC.

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the ATA 2018 meeting by visiting the conference page.


  1. Aghajani M, Roberts T, Yang T, De Souza P, Niles N. Elevated levels of soluble programmed cell death ligand 1 (sPD-L1) are associated with reduced survival in papillary thyroid cancer. Presented at: the 88th American Thyroid Association Annual Meeting; Washington, D.C.: October 3-7, 2018. Abstract poster 184.