CD33 Expression on Peripheral Blood Monocytes Predicts Efficacy of Anti-PD-1 Immunotherapy Against Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Front Immunol. 2022 Apr 14;13:842653. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.842653. eCollection 2022.


Non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths globally. Immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) has transformed cancer medicine, with anti-programmed cell death protein 1 (anti-PD-1) therapy now well-utilized for treating NSCLC. Still, not all patients with NSCLC respond positively to anti-PD-1 therapy, and some patients acquire resistance to treatment. There remains an urgent need to find markers predictive of anti-PD-1 responsiveness. To this end, we performed mass cytometry on peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 26 patients with NSCLC during anti-PD-1 treatment. Patients who responded to anti-PD-1 ICB displayed significantly higher levels of antigen-presenting myeloid cells, including CD9+ nonclassical monocytes, and CD33hi classical monocytes. Using matched pre-post treatment samples, we found that the baseline pre-treatment frequencies of CD33hi monocytes predicted patient responsiveness to anti-PD-1 therapy. Moreover, some of these classical and nonclassical monocyte subsets were associated with reduced immunosuppression by T regulatory (CD4+FOXP3+CD25+) cells in the same patients. Our use of machine learning corroborated the association of specific monocyte markers with responsiveness to ICB. Our work provides a high-dimensional profile of monocytes in NSCLC and links CD33 expression on monocytes with anti-PD-1 effectiveness in patients with NSCLC.

Keywords: CD33; immunosuppression; immunotherapy; monocytes; non-small cell lung cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Monocytes / pathology
  • Sialic Acid Binding Ig-like Lectin 3


  • CD33 protein, human
  • Sialic Acid Binding Ig-like Lectin 3