A phase II trial of intermittent nivolumab in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) who have received prior anti-angiogenic therapy

J Immunother Cancer. 2019 May 16;7(1):127. doi: 10.1186/s40425-019-0615-z.


Background: Nivolumab is approved for mRCC patients who have received prior anti-angiogenic therapy but the duration of therapy required for sustained clinical benefit is unknown. A phase II clinical trial to investigate the feasibility of intermittent nivolumab dosing was conducted.

Methods: Patients ≥18 years of age with mRCC who were previously treated with at least one antiangiogenic therapy were eligible. Patients were treated with nivolumab for twelve weeks. Patients who had RECIST PD were removed from the trial. Patients who did not initially achieve ≥10% reduction in tumor burden (TB) continued nivolumab per standard of care. Patients with ≥10% TB reduction entered a treatment-free observation phase with re-imaging every 12 weeks. Nivolumab was restarted in patients with a ≥ 10% TB increase and again held with TB reduction ≥10%. This intermittent nivolumab dosing continued until RECIST PD while on nivolumab. The primary objective was feasibility of intermittent nivolumab, defined as the proportion of patients eligible for intermittent therapy who elect to receive intermittent nivolumab. Intermittent nivolumab would be considered "feasible" if the acceptance rate was ≥80%. Forty patients provides > 95% power with 0.05 type I error, assuming a null acceptance rate of 50%. With the approval of the combination of ipilimumab/nivolumab (April 2018) in front-line mRCC, this cohort was closed prior to completed pre-planned approval.

Results: Of the 14 patients enrolled, 13 (93%) were male with a median age 65. All had a prior nephrectomy and 12 (86%) were intermediate-risk by IMDC criteria. Five patients (36%) met the criteria for the intermittent phase of the trial (median TB decrease 46%) and all agreed to intermittent therapy. With a median follow-up of 48 weeks, only one patient restarted therapy. The four remaining patients have a sustained response for a median of 34 weeks (range, 16-53) off therapy. No patients developed RECIST PD while off therapy.

Conclusions: This prospective experience of intermittent nivolumab dosing in mRCC supports further investigation of intermittent immunotherapy dosing strategies in RCC.

Trial registration: NCT03126331 (Intermittent Nivolumab in Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Patients; Date of registration 4/27/2017; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03126331 ).

Keywords: Checkpoint inhibitor; Immunotherapy; Kidney cancer; Nivolumab; Renal cell carcinoma; Treatment-free interval.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / methods
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Kidney / diagnostic imaging
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / immunology
  • Kidney / surgery
  • Kidney Neoplasms / immunology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / mortality
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrectomy
  • Nivolumab / administration & dosage*
  • Progression-Free Survival
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Burden / drug effects
  • Tumor Burden / immunology


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Nivolumab

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03126331