Comparative Effectiveness of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors vs Chemotherapy by Tumor Mutational Burden in Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer

JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Mar 1;5(3):e225394. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.5394.


Importance: The most useful biomarkers for clinical decision-making identify patients likely to have improved outcomes with one treatment vs another.

Objective: To evaluate treatment class-specific outcomes of patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) vs taxane chemotherapy by tumor mutational burden (TMB).

Design, setting, and participants: This comparative effectiveness analysis of clinical variables and outcomes used prospectively defined biomarker-stratified genomic data from a deidentified clinicogenomic database. Data included men with previously treated metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) receiving ICI or single-agent taxane chemotherapy from January 2011 to April 2021 at approximately 280 US academic or community-based cancer clinics (approximately 800 sites of care). Data were analyzed from July to August 2021.

Exposures: Single-agent ICI or single-agent taxanes. Treatments were assigned at discretion of physician and patient without randomization. Imbalances of known factors between treatment groups were adjusted with propensity weighting.

Main outcomes and measures: Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) response, time to next therapy (TTNT), and overall survival (OS).

Results: A total of 741 men (median [IQR], 70 [64-76] years) with mCRPC received comprehensive genomic profiling and were treated with ICI or single-agent taxane therapy. At baseline, the median (IQR) PSA level was 79.4 (19.0-254) ng/mL, 108 men (18.8%) had Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status scores of 2 or greater, and 644 men (86.9%) had received prior systemic treatments for mCRPC. A total of 45 patients (6.1%) received ICI therapy and 696 patients (93.9%) received taxane therapy. Among patients with TMB of fewer than 10 mutations per megabase (mt/Mb) receiving ICI, compared with those receiving taxanes, had worse TTNT (median [IQR], 2.4 [1.1-3.2] months vs 4.1 [2.2-6.3] months; hazard ratio [HR], 2.65; 95% CI, 1.78-3.95; P < .001). In contrast, for patients with TMB of 10 mt/Mb or greater, use of ICIs, compared with use taxanes, was associated with more favorable TTNT (median [IQR], 8.0 [3.4 to unknown] months vs 2.4 [2.4-7.3] months; HR, 0.37, 95% CI, 0.15-0.87; P = .02) and OS (median 19.9 [8.06 to unknown] months vs 4.2 [2.69 - 6.12] months; HR, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.10-0.57; P = .001). Among all 741 patients, 44 (5.9%) had TMB of 10 mt/Mb or greater, 22 (3.0%) had high microsatellite instability, and 20 (2.7%) had both. Treatment interactions with TMB of 10 mt/Mb or greater (TTNT: HR, 0.10; 95% CI, 0.32-0.31; P < .001; OS: HR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.076-0.81; P = .02) were stronger than high microsatellite instability alone (TTNT: HR, 0.12; 95% CI, 0.03-0.51; P = .004; OS: HR, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.13-1.12; P = .08).

Conclusions and relevance: In this comparative effectiveness study, ICIs were more effective than taxanes in patients with mCRPC when TMB was 10 mt/Mb or greater but not when TMB was fewer than 10 mt/Mb. The results add validity to the existing TMB cutoff of 10 mt/Mb for ICI use in later lines of therapy, and suggest that ICIs may be a viable alternative to taxane chemotherapy for patients with mCRPC with high TMB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors* / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant* / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant* / genetics


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors