Quantifying pd-l1 expression to monitor immune checkpoint therapy: Opportunities and challenges

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1 Scopus citations


Therapeutics targeting programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) protein and its receptor PD-1 are now dominant players in restoring anti-tumor immune responses. PD-L1 detection by immunohistochemistry (IHC) is emerging as a reproducible biomarker for guiding patient stratification for those therapies in some cancers. However, PD-L1 expression in the tumor microenvironment is highly complex. It is upregulated by aberrant genetic alterations, and is highly regulated at the transcriptional, posttranscriptional, and protein levels. Thus, PD-L1 IHC is inadequate to fully understand the relevance of PD-L1 levels in the whole body and their dynamics to improve therapeutic outcomes. Imaging technologies could potentially assist in meeting that need. Early clinical investigations show promising results in quantifying PD-L1 expression in the whole body by positron emission tomography (PET). Within this context, this review summarizes advancements in regulation of PD-L1 expression and imaging agents, and in PD-L1 PET for drug development, and discusses opportunities and challenges presented by these innovations for guiding immune checkpoint therapy (ICT).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3173
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Immune checkpoints
  • Immuno-Oncology
  • Interferon-γ signaling
  • PET imaging
  • Tumor microenvironment
  • Tumor mutational burden

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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