Soluble PD-L1 is a promising disease biomarker but does not reflect tissue expression in classic Hodgkin lymphoma

Johanna Veldman, Zainab N D Alsada, Anke van den Berg, Wouter J Plattel, Arjan Diepstra, Lydia Visser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


Individually, tissue and soluble markers involved in the programmed cell death protein 1/programmed death-ligand (PD-1/PD-L) axis have been described as biomarkers with clinical value in classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL). In the context of the success of immune checkpoint blockade therapy in cHL, it is interesting to discover whether plasma levels of proteins in the PD-1/PD-L axis are a reflection of expression by the corresponding tissue. Paired tissue and plasma samples of cHL patients were collected and analysed for PD-1, PD-L1 and PD-L2 levels. In addition, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and CD83, molecules regarded to influence the expression of PD-1, PD-L1 and/or PD-L2, were included. PD-L1 was upregulated in the plasma of cHL patients compared to healthy controls and correlated well with several clinical parameters. Strong PD-L1 expression in the tumour microenvironment contributed to high soluble (s)PD-L1 levels, although there was no direct correlation between plasma PD-L1 levels and total expression of PD-L1 in corresponding cHL tissue. Interestingly, we observed a positive correlation between VEGF and PD-1 levels in both tissue and plasma. In conclusion, although PD-L1 is a promising soluble biomarker in cHL, its levels do not reflect the total tissue expression. Future studies focusing on PD-L1 as a predictor for immune checkpoint treatment response, should include both biopsy and plasma samples.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Early online date23-Feb-2021
Publication statusPublished - 23-Feb-2021


  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • immune checkpoint
  • PD&#8208
  • 1
  • L1
  • plasma biomarkers
  • VEGF

Cite this