Elucidation of the Application of Blood Test Biomarkers to Predict Immune-Related Adverse Events in Atezolizumab-Treated NSCLC Patients Using Machine Learning Methods

Front Immunol. 2022 Jun 30:13:862752. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.862752. eCollection 2022.


Background: Development of severe immune-related adverse events (irAEs) is a major predicament to stop treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors, even though tumor progression is suppressed. However, no effective early phase biomarker has been established to predict irAE until now.

Method: This study retrospectively used the data of four international, multi-center clinical trials to investigate the application of blood test biomarkers to predict irAEs in atezolizumab-treated advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Seven machine learning methods were exploited to dissect the importance score of 21 blood test biomarkers after 1,000 simulations by the training cohort consisting of 80%, 70%, and 60% of the combined cohort with 1,320 eligible patients.

Results: XGBoost and LASSO exhibited the best performance in this study with relatively higher consistency between the training and test cohorts. The best area under the curve (AUC) was obtained by a 10-biomarker panel using the XGBoost method for the 8:2 training:test cohort ratio (training cohort AUC = 0.692, test cohort AUC = 0.681). This panel could be further narrowed down to a three-biomarker panel consisting of C-reactive protein (CRP), platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio (PLR), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) with a small median AUC difference using the XGBoost method [for the 8:2 training:test cohort ratio, training cohort AUC difference = -0.035 (p < 0.0001), and test cohort AUC difference = 0.001 (p=0.965)].

Conclusion: Blood test biomarkers currently do not have sufficient predictive power to predict irAE development in atezolizumab-treated advanced NSCLC patients. Nevertheless, biomarkers related to adaptive immunity and liver or thyroid dysfunction warrant further investigation.

Keywords: NSCLC; atezolizumab; blood test; irAE prediction; machine learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Biomarkers
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung*
  • Hematologic Tests
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases*
  • Lung Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Machine Learning
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Biomarkers
  • atezolizumab