Combined immunotherapy with nivolumab and ipilimumab with and without local therapy in patients with melanoma brain metastasis: A DeCOG∗ study in 380 patients

Teresa Amaral*, Felix Kiecker, Sarah Schaefer, Henner Stege, Katharina Kaehler, Patrick Terheyden, Anja Gesierich, Ralf Gutzmer, Sebastian Haferkamp, Jochen Uttikal, Carola Berking, David Rafei-Shamsabadi, Lydia Reinhardt, Friedegund Meier, Ante Karoglan, Christian Posch, Thilo Gambichler, Claudia Pfoehler, Kai Thoms, Julia TietzeDirk Debus, Rudolf Herbst, Steffen Emmert, Carmen Loquai, Jessica C. Hassel, Frank Meiss, Thomas Tueting, Vanessa Heinrich, Thomas Eigentler, Claus Garbe, Lisa Zimmer

*Corresponding author for this work
1 Citation (Scopus)


Background Nivolumab combined with ipilimumab have shown activity in melanoma brain metastasis (MBM). However, in most of the clinical trials investigating immunotherapy in this subgroup, patients with symptomatic MBM and/or prior local brain radiotherapy were excluded. We studied the efficacy of nivolumab plus ipilimumab alone or in combination with local therapies regardless of treatment line in patients with asymptomatic and symptomatic MBM. Methods Patients with MBM treated with nivolumab plus ipilimumab in 23 German Skin Cancer Centers between April 2015 and October 2018 were investigated. Overall survival (OS) was evaluated by Kaplan-Meier estimator and univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazard analyses were performed to determine prognostic factors associated with OS. Results Three hundred and eighty patients were included in this study and 31% had symptomatic MBM (60/193 with data available) at the time of start nivolumab plus ipilimumab. The median follow-up was 18 months and the 2 years and 3 years OS rates were 41% and 30%, respectively. We identified the following independently significant prognostic factors for OS: elevated serum lactate dehydrogenase and protein S100B levels, number of MBM and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status. In these patients treated with checkpoint inhibition first-line or later, in the subgroup of patients with BRAFV600-mutated melanoma we found no differences in terms of OS when receiving first-line either BRAF and MEK inhibitors or nivolumab plus ipilimumab (p=0.085). In BRAF wild-type patients treated with nivolumab plus ipilimumab in first-line or later there was also no difference in OS (p=0.996). Local therapy with stereotactic radiosurgery or surgery led to an improvement in OS compared with not receiving local therapy (p=0.009), regardless of the timepoint of the local therapy. Receiving combined immunotherapy for MBM in first-line or at a later time point made no difference in terms of OS in this study population (p=0.119). Conclusion Immunotherapy with nivolumab plus ipilimumab, particularly in combination with stereotactic radiosurgery or surgery improves OS in asymptomatic and symptomatic MBM.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000333
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26.03.2020

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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