Background: Immune checkpoint blockade with Programmed cell death 1 (PD-1)/PD-L1 inhibitors has been effective in various malignancies and is considered as a standard treatment modality for patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, emerging evidence show that PD-1/PD-L1 blockade can lead to hyperprogressive disease (HPD), a flair-up of tumor growth linked to dismal prognosis. This study aimed to evaluate the incidence of HPD and identify the determinants associated with HPD in patients with NSCLC treated with PD-1/PD-L1 blockade. Patients and methods: We enrolled patients with recurrent and/or metastatic NSCLC treated with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors between April 2014 and November 2018. Clinicopathologic variables, dynamics of tumor growth, and treatment outcomes were analyzed in patients with NSCLC who received PD-1/PD-L1 blockade. HPD was defined according to tumor growth kinetics (TGK), tumor growth rate (TGR), and time to treatment failure (TTF). Immunophenotyping of peripheral blood CD8+ T lymphocytes was conducted to explore the potential predictive biomarkers of HPD. Results: A total of 263 patients were analyzed. HPD was observed in 55 (20.9%), 54 (20.5%), and 98 (37.3%) patients according to the TGK, TGR, and TTF. HPD meeting both TGK and TGR criteria was associated with worse progression-free survival [hazard ratio (HR) 4.619; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.868-7.440] and overall survival (HR, 5.079; 95% CI, 3.136-8.226) than progressive disease without HPD. There were no clinicopathologic variables specific for HPD. In the exploratory biomarker analysis with peripheral blood CD8+ T lymphocytes, a lower frequency of effector/memory subsets (CCR7-CD45RA- T cells among the total CD8+ T cells) and a higher frequency of severely exhausted populations (TIGIT+ T cells among PD-1+CD8+ T cells) were associated with HPD and inferior survival rate. Conclusion: HPD is common in NSCLC patients treated with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors. Biomarkers derived from rationally designed analysis may successfully predict HPD and worse outcomes, meriting further investigation of HPD.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Republic of Korea (grant numbers: NRF-2017R1A2A 1A17069782, 2017R1D1A1B03029874, 2017M3A9E8029717, 2017M3A9E9072669, and 2016M3C9A4922809).
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