Immune Cell Infiltration of the Primary Tumor, Not PD-L1 Status, Is Associated With Improved Response to Checkpoint Inhibition in Metastatic Melanoma

Abstract

Immune checkpoint inhibition has resulted in dramatic improvements in overall and relapse-free survival in patients with metastatic melanoma. The most commonly used immune checkpoint inhibitors are monoclonal antibodies targeting programmed cell death protein 1 and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4. Unfortunately, a significant subset of patients fail to respond to these therapies, which has resulted in intense research efforts to identify the factors which are associated with treatment response. To this end, we investigated immune cell infiltration in primary melanomas and melanoma metastases, in addition to tumor cell PD-L1 expression, to determine whether these factors are associated with an improved outcome after immune checkpoint inhibition. Indeed, the extent of the immune cell infiltration in the primary melanoma, measured by the Immunoscore, was associated with a significantly improved response to immune checkpoint inhibition in terms of increased overall survival. However, the Immunoscore did not predict which patients would respond to treatment. The Immunoscore was significantly reduced in metastases when compared to primary melanomas. In contrast, PD-L1 expression, exhaustively tested using four commercially available anti-PD-L1 clones, did not differ significantly between primary tumors and melanoma metastases and was not associated treatment response. Whilst replication in larger, prospective studies is required, our data demonstrates the relevance of immune cell infiltration in the primary melanoma as a novel marker of improved overall survival in response to immune checkpoint inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in medicine
Volume6
Pages (from-to)27
ISSN2296-858X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20.12.2019

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