Assessment of Capecitabine and Bevacizumab With or Without Atezolizumab for the Treatment of Refractory Metastatic Colorectal Cancer: A Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Feb 1;5(2):e2149040. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.49040.


Importance: Cotargeting vascular endothelial growth factor and programmed cell death 1 or programmed cell death ligand 1 may produce anticancer activity in refractory metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). The clinical benefit of atezolizumab combined with chemotherapy and bevacizumab remains unclear for the treatment of mCRC.

Objectives: To assess whether the addition of atezolizumab to capecitabine and bevacizumab therapy improves progression-free survival (PFS) among patients with refractory mCRC and to perform exploratory analyses among patients with microsatellite-stable (MSS) disease and liver metastasis.

Design, setting, and participants: This double-blind phase 2 randomized clinical trial enrolled 133 patients between September 25, 2017, and June 28, 2018 (median duration of follow-up for PFS, 20.9 months), with data cutoff on May 4, 2020. The study was conducted at multiple centers through the Academic and Community Cancer Research United network. Adult patients with mCRC who experienced disease progression while receiving fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, irinotecan, bevacizumab, and anti-epidermal growth factor receptor antibody therapy (if the patient had a RAS wild-type tumor) were included.

Interventions: Patients were randomized (2:1) to receive capecitabine (850 or 1000 mg/m2) twice daily on days 1 to 14 and bevacizumab (7.5 mg/kg) on day 1 plus either atezolizumab (1200 mg; investigational group) or placebo (placebo group) on day 1 of each 21-day cycle.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary end point was PFS; 110 events were required to detect a hazard ratio (HR) of 0.65 with 80% power (1-sided α = .10). Secondary end points were objective response rate, overall survival (OS), and toxic effects.

Results: Of 133 randomized patients, 128 individuals (median age, 58.0 years [IQR, 51.0-65.0 years]; 77 men [60.2%]) were assessed for efficacy (82 in the investigational group and 46 in the placebo group). Overall, 15 patients (11.7%) self-identified as African American or Black, 8 (6.3%) as Asian, 1 (0.8%) as Pacific Islander, 101 (78.9%) as White, 1 (0.8%) as multiple races (Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and White), and 2 (1.6%) as unknown race or unsure of race. Microsatellite-stable disease was present in 110 patients (69 in the investigational group and 41 in the placebo group). Median PFS was 4.4 months (95% CI, 4.1-6.4 months) in the investigational group and 3.6 months (95% CI, 2.2-6.2 months) in the placebo group (1-sided log-rank P = .07, a statistically significant result; HR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.52-1.09). Among patients with MSS and proficient mismatch repair, the HR for PFS was 0.66 (95% CI, 0.44-0.99). The most common grade 3 or higher treatment-related adverse events in the investigational vs placebo groups were hypertension (6 patients [7.0%] vs 2 patients [4.3%]), diarrhea (6 patients [7.0%] vs 2 patients [4.3%]), and hand-foot syndrome (6 patients [7.0%] vs 2 patients [4.3%]). One treatment-related death occurred in the investigational group. In the investigational group, the response rate was higher among patients without liver metastasis (3 of 13 individuals [23.1%]) vs with liver metastasis (4 of 69 individuals [5.8%]). The benefit of atezolizumab for PFS and OS was greater among patients without vs with liver metastasis (primary analysis of PFS: HR, 0.63 [95% CI, 0.27-1.47] vs 0.77 [95% CI, 0.51-1.17]; OS: HR, 0.33 [95% CI, 0.11-1.02] vs 1.14 [95% CI, 0.72-1.81]).

Conclusions and relevance: In this randomized clinical trial, the addition of atezolizumab to capecitabine and bevacizumab therapy provided limited (ie, not clinically meaningful) clinical benefit. Patients with MSS and proficient mismatch repair tumors and those without liver metastasis benefited more from dual inhibition of the vascular endothelial growth factor and programmed cell death 1 or programmed cell death ligand 1 pathways.

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT02873195.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Bevacizumab / administration & dosage
  • Bevacizumab / adverse effects
  • Bevacizumab / therapeutic use*
  • Capecitabine / administration & dosage
  • Capecitabine / adverse effects
  • Capecitabine / therapeutic use*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / mortality
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Progression-Free Survival


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Bevacizumab
  • atezolizumab
  • Capecitabine

Associated data