Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Expression of the costimulatory molecule B7-H3 is associated with prolonged survival in human pancreatic cancer

Martin Loos1, Dennis M Hedderich1, Malte Ottenhausen1, Nathalia A Giese3, Melanie Laschinger1, Irene Esposito2, Jörg Kleeff1 and Helmut Friess1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Ismaninger Str 22, 81675 Munich, Germany

2 Department of Pathology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Ismaninger Str 22, 81675 Munich, Germany

3 Department of General Surgery, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 110, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2009, 9:463  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-463

Published: 26 December 2009



Costimulatory signaling has been implicated as a potential regulator of antitumor immunity in various human cancers. In contrast to the negative prognostic value of aberrant B7-H1 expression by pancreatic cancer cells, the role of B7-H3 is still unknown. Therefore, we investigated the expression pattern and clinical significance of B7-H3 expression in human pancreatic cancer.


B7-H3 expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 68 patients with pancreatic cancer who underwent surgical tumor resection. Expression data was correlated with clinicopathologic features and with the number of tumor-infiltrating T cells.


B7-H3 expression was significantly upregulated in pancreatic cancer compared to normal pancreas (p < 0.05). In 60 of 68 examined tumors B7-H3 protein was detectable in pancreatic cancer cells. Patients with high tumor B7-H3 levels had a significantly better postoperative prognosis than patients with low tumor B7-H3 levels (p = 0.0067). Furthermore, tumor B7-H3 expression significantly correlated with the number of tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells (p = 0.018).


We demonstrate for the first time that B7-H3 is abundantly expressed in pancreatic cancer and that tumor-associated B7-H3 expression significantly correlates with prolonged postoperative survival. Our findings suggest that B7-H3 might play an important role as a potential stimulator of antitumor immune response in pancreatic cancer.