PD-1 Blockade in Advanced Melanoma in Patients with Hepatitis C and/or HIV

Case Rep Oncol Med. 2015;2015:737389. doi: 10.1155/2015/737389. Epub 2015 Sep 10.


On the basis of remarkable antitumor activity, programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) inhibitors pembrolizumab and nivolumab were approved for the treatment of advanced melanoma in the second-line setting following progression on either CTLA-4 inhibitor ipilimumab or BRAF/MEK inhibitors (for BRAF mutated melanoma). Given hypothesized risk of triggering exacerbations of autoimmune diseases and/or chronic viral infections, clinical trials (including regulatory studies) evaluating checkpoint blocking antibodies PD-1 and CTLA-4 have excluded patients with autoimmune diseases, chronic hepatitis B/C virus (HBV/HCV), and/or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections. Herein, we describe two patients with advanced melanoma and concomitant HCV/HIV infections treated with PD-1 inhibitor pembrolizumab. Patient 2 with HIV/HCV coinfection progressed after 2 doses of pembrolizumab. Patient 1 who had HCV alone was treated with pembrolizumab with initial partial response. HCV viral load remained stable after 9 cycles of pembrolizumab following which 12-week course of HCV-directed therapy was commenced, resulting in prompt reduction of HCV viral load below detectable levels. Response is ongoing and HCV viral load remains undetectable. In both patients, no significant toxicities were observed when pembrolizumab was initiated. We argue for the further investigation of checkpoint inhibition in cancer patients with underlying chronic viral infections in the context of carefully designed clinical trials.