Background: Programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) pathway blockade with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) is a standard therapy in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) nowadays. No strategies to overcome ICI resistance have been described. We aimed to evaluate the use of ipilimumab and anti-PD-1 ICIs (nivolumab or pembrolizumab) combinations in patients with advanced HCC with progression on prior ICIs.
Methods: Patients with advanced HCC with documented tumor progression on prior ICIs and subsequently received ipilimumab with nivolumab/pembrolizumab were analyzed. Objective response rate (ORR), median duration of response (DOR), time-to-progression (TTP), overall survival (OS), and treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) were assessed.
Results: Twenty-five patients were included. The median age was 62 (range: 51-83). About 68% were of Child-Pugh (CP) Grade A and 48% had primary resistance to prior ICI. At median follow-up of 37.7 months, the ORR was 16% with a median DOR of 11.5 months (range: 2.76-30.3). Three patients achieved complete response. The median TTP was 2.96 months (95% CI: 1.61 to 4.31). Median OS was 10.9 months (95% CI: 3.99 to 17.8) and the 1 year, 2 year and 3 year survival rates were 42.4%, 32.3% and 21.6%, respectively. The ORR was 16.7% in primary resistance group and 15.4% in acquired resistance group (p=1.00). All responders were of CP A and Albumin-Bilirubin (ALBI) Grade 1 or 2. CP and ALBI Grades were significantly associated with OS (p=0.006 and p<0.001, respectively). Overall, 52% of patients experienced TRAEs and 12% experienced Grade 3 or above TRAEs.
Conclusions: Ipilimumab and nivolumab/pembrolizumab can achieve durable antitumor activity and encouraging survival outcomes with acceptable toxicity in patients with advanced HCC who had prior treatment with ICIs.
Keywords: CTLA-4 antigen; combination; drug therapy; immunotherapy; liver neoplasms; programmed cell death 1 receptor.
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