Overexpression of PD-L1 (CD274) on tumor cells may represent a hallmark of immune evasion, and overexpression has been documented in several tumors including cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC). While PD-L1/PD-1 activity in the skin has been primarily described in inflammatory models, our goal was to examine PD-L1 expression in human keratinocytes exposed to UV irradiation. We assessed PD-L1 expression in human sun-protected (SP) and sun-damaged (SD) skin, actinic keratosis (AK), and cSCC using IHC and protein microarray. Both methods found low baseline levels of PD-L1 in SP and SD skin and significantly increased expression in cSCC. Next, we examined PD-L1 expression in acute models of UV exposure. In human SP skin exposed to 2-3 MED of UV (n = 20), epidermal PD-L1 was induced in 70% of subjects after 24 h (P = 0.0001). SKH-1 mice exposed to acute UV also showed significant epidermal PD-L1 induction at 16, 24 and 48 h. A time- and dose-dependent induction of PD-L1 was confirmed in cultured human keratinocytes after UV, which was markedly reduced in the presence of MEK/ERK, JNK or STAT3 inhibitors. These findings suggest that UV induces upregulation of PD-L1 through established, pharmacologically targetable stress-signaling pathways in keratinocytes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry