Cabozantinib in Combination with Immunotherapy for Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma and Urothelial Carcinoma: Rationale and Clinical Evidence

Mol Cancer Ther. 2019 Dec;18(12):2185-2193. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-18-1399.


The treatment landscape for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) and urothelial carcinoma (mUC) has evolved rapidly in recent years with the approval of several checkpoint inhibitors. Despite these advances, survival rates for metastatic disease remain poor, and additional strategies will be needed to improve the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors. Combining anti-VEGF/VEGFR agents with checkpoint inhibitors has emerged as a potential strategy to advance the immunotherapy paradigm, because VEGF inhibitors have immunomodulatory potential. Cabozantinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) whose targets include MET, AXL, and VEGFR2. Cabozantinib has a unique immunomodulatory profile and has demonstrated clinical efficacy as a monotherapy in mRCC and mUC, making it a potentially suitable partner for checkpoint inhibitor therapy. In this review, we summarize the current status of immunotherapy for mRCC and mUC and discuss the development of immunotherapy-TKI combinations, with a focus on cabozantinib. We discuss the rationale for such combinations based on our growing understanding of the tumor microenvironment, and we review in detail the preclinical and clinical studies supporting their use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anilides / pharmacology
  • Anilides / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Pyridines / therapeutic use*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / pharmacology
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / therapeutic use*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology


  • Anilides
  • Pyridines
  • cabozantinib
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases