A Non-Linear Association Between Blood Tumor Mutation Burden and Prognosis in NSCLC Patients Receiving Atezolizumab

Oncoimmunology. 2020 Feb 20;9(1):1731072. doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2020.1731072. eCollection 2020.


A significant association between high blood-based tumor mutational burden (bTMB) and improved progression-free survival (PFS) was observed in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) receiving atezolizumab. However, this result was unrepeatable in a recent prospective study. We hypothesized that there might be a non-linear association between bTMB and survival. This study used the clinical and genetic data from POPLAR (n = 105, training set) and OAK (n = 324, validation set) trials. The non-linear association between bTMB and survival was assessed using restricted cubic spline (RCS). The cutoff values for bTMB were calculated via X-tile software. Non-linear relationships were observed between bTMB and PFS and overall survival (OS) in RCS plots (both P non-linearity < 0.001). The optimal cutoff values of bTMB for predicting PFS and OS were 7 and 14 mutations/Mb, respectively. The median PFS and OS of patients with low and high bTMB were significantly longer than those of patients with medium bTMB in the training, validation, and combined sets. Low and high bTMB were also associated with longer PFS and OS in high-programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression population. In conclusion, there was a positive non-linear association between bTMB and survival in NSCLC patients receiving atezolizumab. Patients with low bTMB could also derive benefit from immunotherapy.

Keywords: Non-small cell lung cancer; atezolizumab; blood tumor mutation burden; prognosis.

Grant support

This study was sponsored by Shanghai Municipal Human Resource and Social Security Bureau Talent Project (No. 052), National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81601988, 81602078, 81502450, and 81472642), Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality, China (No. 18441904700), and Shanghai Chest Hospital Project of Collaborative Innovation (No. YJXT20190102).