Review: PD-L1 as an emerging target in the treatment and prevention of keratinocytic skin cancer

Prajakta Vaishampayan, Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski, Sally E. Dickinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Recent advances in the understanding and targeting of immune checkpoints have led to great progress in immune therapies against many forms of cancer. While many types of immune checkpoints are currently targeted in the clinic, this review will focus on recent research implicating the programmed cell death protein 1/programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-1/PD-L1) axis as an emerging focus for the treatment of keratinocytic tumors. PD-L1 is of particular interest in nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC), as it is not only upregulated in these tumors but is stimulated by environmental ultraviolet exposure. This response may also make PD-L1 an excellent target for photochemoprevention using topically applied small molecule inhibitors. Here, we summarize recent investigations on PD-L1 expression and clinically relevant immune checkpoint inhibitor treatment in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, as well as small molecule agents targeting PD-L1 that may be useful for clinical development aiming at treatment or prevention of NMSC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-61
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Carcinogenesis
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • PD-1
  • PD-L1
  • cSCC
  • immune checkpoint inhibitor
  • nonmelanoma skin cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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