Eosinophils have been identified as a prognostic marker in immunotherapy of melanoma and suggested to contribute to anti-tumor host defense. However, the influence of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) on the eosinophil population is poorly studied. Here, we applied routine laboratory tests, multicolor flow cytometry, RNA microarray analysis, and bio-plex assay to analyze circulating eosinophils and related serum inflammatory factors in 32 patients treated with pembrolizumab or the combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab. We demonstrated that clinical responses to ICI treatment were associated with an eosinophil accumulation in the peripheral blood. Moreover, immunotherapy led to the alteration of the eosinophil genetic and activation profile. Elevated serum concentrations of IL-16 during ICI treatment were found to be associated with increased frequencies of eosinophils in the peripheral blood. Using immunohistochemistry, we observed an enhanced eosinophil degranulation and a positive correlation between eosinophil and CD8+ T cell infiltration of tumor tissues from melanoma patients treated with ICI. Our findings highlight additional mechanisms of ICI effects and suggest the level of eosinophils as a novel predictive marker for melanoma patients who may benefit from this immunotherapy.
Keywords: Melanoma; T cells; eosinophils; immune checkpoint inhibitors.
© 2020 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.