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Baseline plasma levels of soluble PD-1, PD-L1, and BTN3A1 predict response to nivolumab treatment in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma: a step toward a biomarker for therapeutic decisions

  • Autori: Incorvaia L.; Fanale D.; Badalamenti G.; Porta C.; Olive D.; De Luca I.; Brando C.; Rizzo M.; Messina C.; Rediti M.; Russo A.; Bazan V.; Iovanna J.L.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2020
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Despite a proportion of renal cancer patients can experiment marked and durable responses to immune-checkpoint inhibitors, the treatment efficacy is widely variable and identifying the patient who will benefit from immunotherapy remains an issue. We performed a prospective study to investigate if soluble forms of the immune-checkpoints PD-1 (sPD-1), PD-L1 (sPD-L1), pan-BTN3As, BTN3A1, and BTN2A1, could be candidate to predict the response to immune-checkpoint blockade therapy. We evaluated the plasma levels in a learning cohort of metastatic clear cell renal carcinoma (mccRCC) patients treated with the anti-PD-1 agent nivolumab by ad hoc developed ELISA’s. Using specific cut-offs determined through ROC curves, we showed that high baseline levels of sPD-1 (>2.11 ng/ml), sPD-L1 (>0.66 ng/ml), and sBTN3A1 (>6.84 ng/ml) were associated with a longer progression-free survival (PFS) to nivolumab treatment [median PFS, levels above thresholds: sPD-1, 20.7 months (p < .0001); sPD-L1, 19 months (p < .0001); sBTN3A1, 17.5 months (p = .002)]. High sPD-1 and sBTN3A1 levels were also associated with best overall response by RECIST and objective response of >20%. The results were confirmed in a validation cohort of 20 mccRCC patients. The analysis of plasma dynamic changes after nivolumab showed a statistically significant decrease of sPD-1 after 2 cycles (Day 28) in the long-responder patients. Our study revealed that the plasma levels of sPD-1, sPD-L1, and sBTN3A1 can predict response to nivolumab, discriminating responders from non-responders already at therapy baseline, with the advantages of non-invasive sample collection and real-time monitoring that allow to evaluate the dynamic changes during cancer evolution and treatment.