Can IDO activity predict primary resistance to anti-PD-1 treatment in NSCLC?


BACKGROUND: Immune checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized the treatment paradigm of highly lethal malignancies like advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), demonstrating long-term tumour control and extended patient survival. Unfortunately, only 25-30% of patients experience a durable benefit, while the vast majority demonstrate primary or acquired resistance. Recently, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) activity has been proposed as a possible mechanism of resistance to anti-PD-1 treatment leading to an immunosuppressive microenvironment. METHODS: Pre-treatment serum concentrations of tryptophan (trp) and kynurenine (kyn) were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry in NSCLC patients treated with second-line nivolumab. The IDO activity was expressed with kyn/trp ratio. The associations between kyn/trp ratio and early progression, performance status (PS), age, sex, brain metastases, pleural effusion, progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were analyzed using Spearman test and Mann-Whitney test. RESULTS: Twenty-six NSCLC patients were included in our study; 14 of them (54%) presented early progression (< 3 months) to nivolumab treatment. The median value of kyn/trp ratio was 0.06 µg/ml and the median value of quinolinic acid was 68.45 ng/ml. A significant correlation between early progression and higher kyn/trp ratio and quinolinic acid concentration was observed (p = 0.017 and p = 0.005, respectively). Patients presenting lower values of kyn/trp ratio and quinolinic acid levels showed longer PFS (median PFS not reached versus 3 months; HR: 0.3; p = 0.018) and OS (median OS not reached vs 3 months; HR: 0.18; p = 0.0005). CONCLUSION: IDO activity, expressed as kyn/trp ratio, is associated with response to immunotherapy; in particular, higher kyn/trp ratio could predict resistance to anti-PD-1 treatment. These preliminary results suggest the possibility of using anti-PD-1 plus IDO inhibitor in those patients with high level of kyn/trp ratio

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