The development of immunotherapy is one of the greatest advances in cancer treatment, but up to 40% of cancer patients on immune checkpoint inhibitors develop clinically significant immune-related adverse events (irAEs) and up to 80% of individuals receiving checkpoint inhibitors experience some form of irAE. Predicting which patients will react negatively in response to immunotherapy remains a challenge, and the factors that determine who is at risk for autoimmune toxicities is more likely related to host immune function than to specific cancer features.
Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have identified blood-based biomarkers that may help identify those patients at greatest risk of developing autoimmune side effects from immunotherapy. The study included 65 patients and 13 healthy controls whose sera were assessed for levels of 40 different cytokines before treatment and two times following treatment.
Patients who developed irAEs had lower baseline levels and greater post-treatment increases in multiple cytokine levels. Specifically, lower levels of CXCL9, CXCL10, CXCL11 and CXCL19 were observed at baseline and greater increases in CXCL9 and CXCL10 levels were exhibited at post treatment compared to patients without irAEs. This suggests that underlying immune dysregulation may be associated with heightened risk for irAEs.
As immunotherapy use becomes more available and expands from major research centers to other sites, the ability to promptly recognize and treat immune-related adverse events is needed. This work describes key characteristics of the host immune system that may enable clinicians to better monitor patient responses to immunotherapy and predict potential adverse reactions.
This article titled “Immune dysregulation in cancer patients developing immune-related adverse events” was published in The British Journal of Cancer.