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BACKGROUND - Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have substantially improved clinical outcomes in multiple cancer types and are increasingly being used in early disease settings and in combinations of different immunotherapies. However, ICIs can also cause severe or fatal immune-related adverse-events (irAEs). We aimed to identify and characterise cardiovascular irAEs that are significantly associated with ICIs.
METHODS - In this observational, retrospective, pharmacovigilance study, we used VigiBase, WHO's global database of individual case safety reports, to compare cardiovascular adverse event reporting in patients who received ICIs (ICI subgroup) with this reporting in the full database. This study included all cardiovascular irAEs classified by group queries according to the Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities, between inception on Nov 14, 1967, and Jan 2, 2018. We evaluated the association between ICIs and cardiovascular adverse events using the reporting odds ratio (ROR) and the information component (IC). IC is an indicator value for disproportionate Bayesian reporting that compares observed and expected values to find associations between drugs and adverse events. IC is the lower end of the IC 95% credibility interval, and an IC value of more than zero is deemed significant. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT03387540.
FINDINGS - We identified 31 321 adverse events reported in patients who received ICIs and 16 343 451 adverse events reported in patients treated with any drugs (full database) in VigiBase. Compared with the full database, ICI treatment was associated with higher reporting of myocarditis (5515 reports for the full database vs 122 for ICIs, ROR 11·21 [95% CI 9·36-13·43]; IC 3·20), pericardial diseases (12 800 vs 95, 3·80 [3·08-4·62]; IC 1·63), and vasculitis (33 289 vs 82, 1·56 [1·25-1·94]; IC 0·03), including temporal arteritis (696 vs 18, 12·99 [8·12-20·77]; IC 2·59) and polymyalgia rheumatica (1709 vs 16, 5·13 [3·13-8·40]; IC 1·33). Pericardial diseases were reported more often in patients with lung cancer (49 [56%] of 87 patients), whereas myocarditis (42 [41%] of 103 patients) and vasculitis (42 [60%] of 70 patients) were more commonly reported in patients with melanoma (χ test for overall subgroup comparison, p<0·0001). Vision was impaired in five (28%) of 18 patients with temporal arteritis. Cardiovascular irAEs were severe in the majority of cases (>80%), with death occurring in 61 (50%) of 122 myocarditis cases, 20 (21%) of 95 pericardial disease cases, and five (6%) of 82 vasculitis cases (χ test for overall comparison between pericardial diseases, myocarditis, and vasculitis, p<0·0001).
INTERPRETATION - Treatment with ICIs can lead to severe and disabling inflammatory cardiovascular irAEs soon after commencement of therapy. In addition to life-threatening myocarditis, these toxicities include pericardial diseases and temporal arteritis with a risk of blindness. These events should be considered in patient care and in combination clinical trial designs (ie, combinations of different immunotherapies as well as immunotherapies and chemotherapy).
FUNDING - The Cancer Institut Thématique Multi-Organisme of the French National Alliance for Life and Health Sciences (AVIESAN) Plan Cancer 2014-2019; US National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health; the James C. Bradford Jr. Melanoma Fund; and the Melanoma Research Foundation.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Human endogenous retroviruses (hERVs) are remnants of exogenous retroviruses that have integrated into the genome throughout evolution. We developed a computational workflow, hervQuant, which identified more than 3,000 transcriptionally active hERVs within The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) pan-cancer RNA-Seq database. hERV expression was associated with clinical prognosis in several tumor types, most significantly clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). We explored two mechanisms by which hERV expression may influence the tumor immune microenvironment in ccRCC: (i) RIG-I-like signaling and (ii) retroviral antigen activation of adaptive immunity. We demonstrated the ability of hERV signatures associated with these immune mechanisms to predict patient survival in ccRCC, independent of clinical staging and molecular subtyping. We identified potential tumor-specific hERV epitopes with evidence of translational activity through the use of a ccRCC ribosome profiling (Ribo-Seq) dataset, validated their ability to bind HLA in vitro, and identified the presence of MHC tetramer-positive T cells against predicted epitopes. hERV sequences identified through this screening approach were significantly more highly expressed in ccRCC tumors responsive to treatment with programmed death receptor 1 (PD-1) inhibition. hervQuant provides insights into the role of hERVs within the tumor immune microenvironment, as well as evidence that hERV expression could serve as a biomarker for patient prognosis and response to immunotherapy.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have transformed the treatment landscape for cancer. Due to the mechanism of action of ICIs, inflammatory reactions against normal tissue were an anticipated side effect of these agents; these immune-related adverse events have been documented and are typically low grade and manageable. Myocarditis has emerged as an uncommon but potentially life-threatening adverse reaction in patients treated with ICIs. Assessment and characterization of ICI-associated myocarditis is challenging because of its low incidence and protean manifestations. Nevertheless, the seriousness of ICI-associated myocarditis justifies a coordinated effort to increase awareness of this syndrome, identify patients who may be at risk, and enable early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. The "Checkpoint Inhibitor Safety Working Group," a multidisciplinary committee of academic, industry, and regulatory partners, convened at a workshop hosted by Project Data Sphere, LLC, on December 15, 2017. This meeting aimed to evaluate the current information on ICI-associated myocarditis, determine methods to collect and share data on this adverse reaction, and establish task forces to close the identified knowledge gaps. In this report, we summarize the workshop findings and proposed steps to address the impact of ICI-associated myocarditis in patients with cancer.
© AlphaMed Press 2018.
The role of enhancers, a key class of non-coding regulatory DNA elements, in cancer development has increasingly been appreciated. Here, we present the detection and characterization of a large number of expressed enhancers in a genome-wide analysis of 8928 tumor samples across 33 cancer types using TCGA RNA-seq data. Compared with matched normal tissues, global enhancer activation was observed in most cancers. Across cancer types, global enhancer activity was positively associated with aneuploidy, but not mutation load, suggesting a hypothesis centered on "chromatin-state" to explain their interplay. Integrating eQTL, mRNA co-expression, and Hi-C data analysis, we developed a computational method to infer causal enhancer-gene interactions, revealing enhancers of clinically actionable genes. Having identified an enhancer ∼140 kb downstream of PD-L1, a major immunotherapy target, we validated it experimentally. This study provides a systematic view of enhancer activity in diverse tumor contexts and suggests the clinical implications of enhancers.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Immunotherapy has transformed the therapeutic landscape of cancer, but the preclinical evaluation of combination approaches that will deepen and broaden its clinical benefit has lagged far behind due to the lack of expedient and easily accessible human systems. In this issue, Jenkins and colleagues and Deng and colleagues report the use of organotypic cultures of tumors derived from mice and humans containing both tumor cells and cells from their local immune microenvironment to recapitulate the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors and extend the application of this system to therapeutic combinations of immune checkpoint blockade and molecularly targeted agents. .
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.
BACKGROUND - Severe myocarditis associated with electrical conduction abnormalities and occasionally heart failure has been well documented following treatment with immune checkpoint blockade with an estimated incidence of less than 1%. However, the incidence, early detection, and management of less severe immune-related myocarditis are unknown since most immunotherapy trials have not included routine cardiac monitoring. Herein, we provide the first description of subclinical or smoldering myocarditis with minimal signs and symptoms following immune checkpoint blockade with a single dose of ipilimumab and nivolumab.
CASE PRESENTATION - Our patient was diagnosed with immune checkpoint blockade-induced myocarditis based upon an acute rise in serum cardiac troponin I beginning 2 weeks after the initial dose of ipilimumab/nivolumab consistent with the reported median onset of clinical myocarditis at 17 days, as well as a lack of other causes despite extensive cardiac evaluation. The patient initially presented with intractable nausea with no known gastrointestinal etiology. High dose glucocorticoid therapy led to rapid resolution of nausea and a four-fold decrease in troponin I over 4 days. Serum troponin I spiked again following a steroid taper to 13 times the upper limit of normal with endomyocardial biopsy revealing collagen fibrosis and lymphocytic inflammation predominantly comprised of CD8+ T cells consistent with chronic smoldering myocarditis. Serum anti-striated muscle antibodies were also detected with no evidence of rhabdomyolysis. Serum cardiac troponin I levels as an indicator of ongoing myocyte damage gradually improved with chronic prednisone at 10 mg daily. Late addition of intravenous immunoglobulin was associated with rapid normalization of creatine kinase-myocardial band.
CONCLUSIONS - This case demonstrates that subclinical, smoldering myocarditis may occur following immune checkpoint blockade, with evidence of both humoral and cell-mediated immunity responsive to corticosteroid therapy. This experience supports early monitoring for myocarditis with serial electrocardiograms and serum troponin I determinations in large, prospective cohorts of patients receiving combination immune checkpoint blockade as early detection and initiation of immunosuppression may forestall fulminant presentation of this disease and limit myocardial damage.
The presence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in triple-negative breast cancers is correlated with improved outcomes. Ras/MAPK pathway activation is associated with significantly lower levels of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in triple-negative breast cancers and while MEK inhibition can promote recruitment of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes to the tumor, here we show that MEK inhibition adversely affects early onset T-cell effector function. We show that α-4-1BB and α-OX-40 T-cell agonist antibodies can rescue the adverse effects of MEK inhibition on T cells in both mouse and human T cells, which results in augmented anti-tumor effects in vivo. This effect is dependent upon increased downstream p38/JNK pathway activation. Taken together, our data suggest that although Ras/MAPK pathway inhibition can increase tumor immunogenicity, the negative impact on T-cell activity is functionally important. This undesirable impact is effectively prevented by combination with T-cell immune agonist immunotherapies resulting in superior therapeutic efficacy.MEK inhibition in breast cancer is associated with increased tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), however, MAPK activity is required for T cells function. Here the authors show that TILs activity following MEK inhibition can be enhanced by agonist immunotherapy resulting in synergic therapeutic effects.