Patients With Antithyroid Antibodies Are Prone To Develop Destructive Thyroiditis by Nivolumab: A Prospective Study

J Endocr Soc. 2018 Feb 6;2(3):241-251. doi: 10.1210/js.2017-00432. eCollection 2018 Mar 1.


Context: Immune checkpoint inhibitors, including anti-programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) antibodies, have become promising treatments for a variety of advanced malignancies. However, these medicines can cause immune-related adverse events (irAEs), including endocrinopathies.

Objective: This study examined the incidence of endocrine irAEs induced by nivolumab.

Patients and main outcome measured: Sixty-six patients treated with nivolumab at Nagoya University Hospital were prospectively evaluated for pituitary hormones, thyroid function, antithyroid antibodies (Abs), and glucose levels every 6 weeks after the initiation of nivolumab for 24 weeks.

Results: Four out of 66 patients developed destructive thyroiditis, and three patients developed hypothyroidism requiring levothyroxine replacement. The prevalence of positive anti-thyroglobulin Abs (TgAbs) and/or anti-thyroid peroxidase Abs (TPOAbs) at baseline was significantly higher in the group that developed destructive thyroiditis (3/4) compared with the group that did not develop thyroiditis (3/62; P = 0.002). There were no significant differences in other clinical variables between the groups. There were no endocrine irAEs other than destructive thyroiditis during the 24 weeks. The prevalence of TgAbs and/or TPOAbs at baseline was not associated with the development of other irAEs, including pneumonitis, colitis, or skin reactions.

Conclusions: Our real-world data showed that destructive thyroiditis was an endocrine irAE that was frequently induced by nivolumab and was significantly associated with positive TgAbs and/or TPOAbs before treatment. Our findings indicate that evaluating these Abs before treatment may help identify patients with a high risk of thyroidal irAEs and may have important clinical benefit.

Keywords: PD-1; immune checkpoint inhibitor; immunotherapy; irAE; nivolumab; thyroiditis.