Background: Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have revolutionized cancer treatment. Since clinical benefits are limited to a subset of patients, we aimed to identify peripheral blood biomarkers that predict the efficacy of the anti-programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) antibody (nivolumab) in patients with gastric cancer.
Methods: We collected peripheral blood samples from gastric cancer patients (n = 29) before and after treatment with nivolumab and investigated the relationship between the frequency of surface or intracellular markers among nivolumab-binding PD-1+CD8+ T cells and treatment responses using multicolor flow cytometry. The tumors, lymph nodes, and peripheral blood of gastric cancer patients who underwent gastrectomy following nivolumab treatment were collected, and nivolumab-binding PD-1+CD8+ T cells in these tissue samples were characterized.
Results: Patients with a high frequency of CD103 among PD-1+CD8+ T cells in peripheral blood 2 weeks after the start of treatment had significantly better progression-free survival than the low group (P = 0.032). This CD103+PD-1+CD8+ T cell population mainly consisted of central memory T cells, showing the high expression of Ki-67 and few cytotoxic granules. In contrast, effector memory T cells were more frequently observed among CD103+PD-1+CD8+ T cells in tumors, which implied a change in the differentiated status of central memory T cells in lymph nodes and peripheral blood to effector memory T cells in tumors during the treatment with ICIs.
Conclusions: A high frequency of CD103 among PD-1+CD8+ T cells 2 weeks after nivolumab treatment in patients with advanced gastric cancer may be a useful biomarker for predicting the efficacy of anti-PD-1 therapy.
Keywords: CD103; Clinical response; Gastric cancer; Nivolumab; Predictive biomarker.
© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.