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      Risk of hematologic toxicities with programmed cell death-1 inhibitors in cancer patients: a meta-analysis of current studies

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          Programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) inhibitor-related hematologic toxicities are a category of rare but clinically serious and potentially life-threatening adverse events; however, little is known about their risks across different treatment regimens and tumor types. The objective of this study was to compare the incidences of PD-1 inhibitor-related hematologic toxicities among different therapeutic regimens and tumor types.


          Twenty-six original articles on PD-1 inhibitor trials were identified based on a PubMed search completed on September 26, 2017. The incidences of hematologic toxicities were collected.


          A total of 26 studies containing 5,088 patients were included in the meta-analysis. PD-1 inhibitor monotherapy was associated with an increased risk of all-grade anemia in cancer patients (5%, 95% CI 4%–6%), particularly in patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) (8%, 95% CI 6%–12%), compared with all-grade thrombocytopenia (2%, 95% CI 1%–5%), leukopenia (2%, 95% CI 1%–3%), and neutropenia (1%, 95% CI 0–1%). However, low incidences of high-grade hematologic toxicities were observed in cancer patients treated with PD-1 inhibitor monotherapy. The use of PD-1 inhibitors in combination with ipilimumab, peptide vaccines, or chemotherapy had significantly higher risks than PD-1 inhibitor monotherapy for all-grade anemia (13%, 95% CI 5%–31%), thrombocytopenia (6%, 95% CI 2%–18%), leukopenia (5%, 95% CI 1%–35%), neutropenia (4%, 95% CI 1%–26%), and only high-grade thrombocytopenia (4%, 95% CI 1%–15%). In addition, all-grade and high-grade hematologic toxicities in chemotherapy and everolimus treatment arms were more frequent than in PD-1 inhibitor monotherapy arms.


          The risks of PD-1 inhibitor-related hematologic toxicities were higher in RCC than in other cancers, and during combination therapy. These results may contribute toward enhancing awareness among clinicians about frequent clinical monitoring when managing PD-1 inhibitors.

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          Blockade of the programmed death-1 inhibitory cell-surface molecule on immune cells using the fully human immunoglobulin G4 antibody nivolumab mediates tumor regression in a portion of patients with advanced treatment-refractory solid tumors. We report clinical activity, survival, and long-term safety in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) treated with nivolumab in a phase I study with expansion cohorts.
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            Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) blockade with ipilimumab prolongs survival in patients with metastatic melanoma. CTLA-4 blockade and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)-secreting tumor vaccine combinations demonstrate therapeutic synergy in preclinical models. A key unanswered question is whether systemic GM-CSF (sargramostim) enhances CTLA-4 blockade. To compare the effect of ipilimumab plus sargramostim vs ipilimumab alone on overall survival (OS) in patients with metastatic melanoma. The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) conducted a US-based phase 2 randomized clinical trial from December 28, 2010, until July 28, 2011, of patients (N = 245) with unresectable stage III or IV melanoma, at least 1 prior therapy, no central nervous system metastases, and ECOG performance status of 0 or 1. Patients were randomized to receive ipilimumab, 10 mg/kg, intravenously on day 1 plus sargramostim, 250 μg subcutaneously, on days 1 to 14 of a 21-day cycle (n = 123) vs ipilimumab alone (n = 122). Ipilimumab treatment included induction for 4 cycles followed by maintenance every fourth cycle. Primary end point: comparison of length of OS. Secondary end point: progression-free survival (PFS), response rate, safety, and tolerability. Median follow-up was 13.3 months (range, 0.03-19.9). Median OS as of December 2012 for ipilimumab plus sargramostim was 17.5 months (95% CI, 14.9-not reached) vs 12.7 months (95% CI, 10.0-not reached) for ipilimumab. The 1-year survival rate for ipilimumab plus sargramostim was 68.9% (95% CI, 60.6%-85.5%) compared to 52.9% (95% CI, 43.6%-62.2%) for ipilimumab alone (stratified log-rank 1-sided P = .01; mortality hazard ratio 0.64 [1-sided 90% repeated CI, not applicable-0.90]). A planned interim analysis was conducted at 69.8% of expected events (104 observed with 149 expected deaths). Planned interim analysis using the O'Brien-Fleming boundary was crossed for improvement in OS. There was no difference in PFS. Median PFS for ipilimumab plus sargramostim was 3.1 months (95% CI, 2.9-4.6) vs 3.1 months (95% CI, 2.9-4.0) for ipilimumab alone. Grade 3 to 5 adverse events occurred in 44.9% (95% CI; 35.8%-54.4%) of patients in the ipilimumab plus sargramostim group vs 58.3% (95% CI, 49.0%-67.2%) of patients in the ipilimumab-alone group (2-sided P = .04). Among patients with unresectable stage III or IV melanoma, treatment with ipilimumab plus sargramostim vs ipilimumab alone resulted in longer OS and lower toxicity, but no difference in PFS. These findings require confirmation in larger studies with longer follow-up. clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01134614.
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              The anti-programmed death-1 (PD-1) antibody nivolumab (BMS-936558) has clinical activity in patients with metastatic melanoma. Nivolumab plus vaccine was investigated as adjuvant therapy in resected stage IIIC and IV melanoma patients.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                08 June 2018
                : 12
                : 1645-1657
                Radiation Oncology Center, Chongqing University Cancer Hospital & Chongqing Cancer Institute & Chongqing Cancer Hospital, Chongqing, China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Ying Wang, Radiation Oncology Center, Chongqing University Cancer Hospital, Chongqing Cancer Institute, Chongqing Cancer Hospital, No 181 Hanyu Road, Shapingba District, Chongqing 400030, China, Tel +86 23 6507 9227, Email yingwang197011@ 123456163.com
                © 2018 Sui et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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