Biomarker analysis from CheckMate 214: nivolumab plus ipilimumab versus sunitinib in renal cell carcinoma

J Immunother Cancer. 2022 Mar;10(3):e004316. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2021-004316.


Background: The phase 3 CheckMate 214 trial demonstrated higher response rates and improved overall survival with nivolumab plus ipilimumab versus sunitinib in first-line therapy for advanced clear-cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC). An unmet need exists to identify patients with RCC who are most likely to benefit from treatment with nivolumab plus ipilimumab.

Methods: In exploratory analyses, pretreatment levels of programmed death ligand 1 were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Genomic and transcriptomic biomarkers (including tumor mutational burden and gene expression signatures) were also investigated.

Results: Biomarkers previously associated with benefit from immune checkpoint inhibitor-containing regimens in RCC were not predictive for survival in patients with RCC treated with nivolumab plus ipilimumab. Analysis of gene expression identified an association between an inflammatory response and progression-free survival with nivolumab plus ipilimumab.

Conclusions: The exploratory analyses reveal relationships between molecular biomarkers and provide supportive data on how the inflammation status of the tumor microenvironment may be important for identifying predictive biomarkers of response and survival with combination immunotherapy in patients with RCC. Further validation may help to provide biomarker-driven precision treatment for patients with RCC.

Keywords: gene expression profiling; immunotherapy; inflammation; kidney neoplasms; tumor biomarkers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / pathology
  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic
  • Humans
  • Ipilimumab / pharmacology
  • Ipilimumab / therapeutic use
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Nivolumab / pharmacology
  • Nivolumab / therapeutic use
  • Sunitinib / therapeutic use
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Ipilimumab
  • Nivolumab
  • Sunitinib