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      Clinical and immunologic correlates of response to PD-1 blockade in a patient with metastatic renal medullary carcinoma

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          Renal medullary carcinoma (RMC) is a rare kidney tumor that occurs in adolescent and young adults, typically in association with sickle cell trait. RMC exhibits rapid disease progression, frequent metastases at diagnosis, and dismal clinical outcomes. Currently available therapies, including cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy, multi-tyrosine kinase, and mTOR inhibitor strategies demonstrate either transient responses or minimal activity. Therefore, further molecular characterization and additional treatment strategies are urgently needed in this aggressive disease. The role of immune system surveillance and responsiveness to anti-PD-1 therapies in RMC are completely unexplored.

          Case presentation

          A 29 year old male with sickle cell trait presented with painless hematuria that ultimately resulted in a diagnosis of RMC. He underwent total nephrectomy and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy with carboplatin, gemcitabine, paclitaxel, and bevacizumab. As is common in this aggressive form of kidney cancer he recurred with biopsy proven lymph node metastasis. He was started on checkpoint inhibitor therapy with nivolumab that inhibits program cell death protein 1 (PD-1), and on his first follow-up imaging he was found to have a partial response that on subsequent scans ultimately resulted in a complete response lasting greater than nine months. In this report, we present a patient with metastatic RMC who exhibited a clinical response to nivolumab, as well as the genetic and immunologic correlates of the pre-treatment tumor. Provocatively, robust immune infiltrate and expression of immune checkpoints were observed, despite the presence of a low mutation burden.


          Here, we report the first case of immune microenvironment profiling and response to anti-PD-1 in a patient with RMC to our knowledge. This case suggests that anti-PD-1 based therapies may have clinical activity in RMC.

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          Most cited references 15

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          Expression of PD-L1, PD-L2, PD-1 and CTLA4 in myelodysplastic syndromes is enhanced by treatment with hypomethylating agents

          Blockade of immune checkpoints is emerging as new form of anticancer therapy. We studied the expression of PD-L1, PD-L2, PD-1 and CTLA4 mRNA expression in CD34+ cells from MDS, CMML and AML patients (N=124). Aberrant up-regulation (≥2 fold) was observed in 34%, 14%, 15% and 8% of the patients respectively. Increased expression of these 4 genes was also observed in PBMNC (N=61). The relative expression of PD-L1 from PBMNC was significantly higher in MDS (p=0.018) and CMML (p=0.0128) compared to AML. By immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis, PD-L1 protein expression was observed in MDS CD34+ cells, whereas stroma/non-blast cellular compartment was positive for PD-1. In a cohort of patients treated with epigenetic therapy, PD-L1, PD-L2, PD-1 and CTLA4 expression was upregulated. Patients resistant to therapy had relative higher increments in gene expression compared to patients that achieved response. Treatment of leukemia cells with decitabine resulted in a dose dependent up-regulation of above genes. Exposure to decitabine resulted in partial demethylation of PD-1 in leukemia cell lines and human samples. This study suggests PD-1 signaling may be involved in MDS pathogenesis and resistance mechanisms to HMAs. Blockade of this pathway can be a potential therapy in MDS and AML.
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            Recurrent chromosomal gains and heterogeneous driver mutations characterise papillary renal cancer evolution

            Papillary renal cell carcinoma (pRCC) is an important subtype of kidney cancer with a problematic pathological classification and highly variable clinical behaviour. Here we sequence the genomes or exomes of 31 pRCCs, and in four tumours, multi-region sequencing is undertaken. We identify BAP1, SETD2, ARID2 and Nrf2 pathway genes (KEAP1, NHE2L2 and CUL3) as probable drivers, together with at least eight other possible drivers. However, only ~10% of tumours harbour detectable pathogenic changes in any one driver gene, and where present, the mutations are often predicted to be present within cancer sub-clones. We specifically detect parallel evolution of multiple SETD2 mutations within different sub-regions of the same tumour. By contrast, large copy number gains of chromosomes 7, 12, 16 and 17 are usually early, monoclonal changes in pRCC evolution. The predominance of large copy number variants as the major drivers for pRCC highlights an unusual mode of tumorigenesis that may challenge precision medicine approaches.
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              Renal medullary carcinoma: rhabdoid features and the absence of INI1 expression as markers of aggressive behavior.

              Renal medullary carcinoma is a rare, well-recognized highly aggressive tumor of varied histopathology, which occurs in young patients with sickle cell trait or disease. Rhabdoid elements, occasionally seen in high-grade renal tumors including renal medullary carcinoma, possibly represent a pathologic marker of aggressive behavior. INI1 (hSNF5/SMARCB1/BAF47) is a highly conserved factor in the ATP-dependent chromatin-modifying complex. Loss of this factor in mice results in aggressive rhabdoid tumors or lymphomas. In humans, the loss of INI1 expression has been reported in pediatric renal rhabdoid tumors, central nervous system atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors and epithelioid sarcomas, a possible primary soft tissue rhabdoid tumor. This study compares five renal medullary carcinomas with 10 high-grade renal cell carcinomas (five with rhabdoid features), two urothelial carcinomas and two pediatric renal rhabdoid tumors. All five renal medullary carcinomas, irrespective of histopathology, showed complete loss of INI1 expression similar to that seen in pediatric renal rhabdoid tumors. In contrast, all renal cell carcinomas or urothelial carcinomas, including those with histological rhabdoid features, expressed INI1. Clinically, all five of the patients with renal medullary carcinoma and the two patients with rhabdoid tumors presented with extra-renal metastases at the time of diagnosis. This study demonstrates that renal medullary carcinoma and renal rhabdoid tumor share a common molecular/genetic alteration, which is closely linked to their aggressive biological behavior. However, the absence of INI1 expression is not necessarily predictive of rhabdoid histopathology but remains associated with aggressive behavior in renal medullary carcinoma.

                Author and article information

                J Immunother Cancer
                J Immunother Cancer
                Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer
                BioMed Central (London )
                17 January 2017
                17 January 2017
                : 5
                [1 ]Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232 USA
                [2 ]Georgia Cancer Specialists, Atlanta, GA 30342 USA
                [3 ]Genoptix Inc, Carlsbad, CA 92008 USA
                [4 ]Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263 USA
                [5 ]Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, 777 Preston Research Building, 2220 Pierce Avenue, Nashville, TN 37232 USA
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: FundRef, National Cancer Institute;
                Award ID: K23 CA204726
                Award ID: K24CA172355
                Award Recipient :
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                © The Author(s) 2017


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