Association between increased peripheral blood CD86-positive plasmacytoid dendritic cells and immune-related adverse events in patients with non-small cell lung cancer

Glob Health Med. 2022 Dec 31;4(6):301-308. doi: 10.35772/ghm.2022.01052.


The occurrence of immune-related adverse events (irAEs) after immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) is unpredictable. Profiles of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) represent the host immune system and have the potential to predict irAEs. We analyzed PBMC subsets using multicolor flow cytometry before and at weeks 2 and 8 after the start of ICIs in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Sixteen eligible patients were evaluated. The irAEs occurred in 6 patients (37.5%): diarrhea in 2, diarrhea and a rash in 1, pituitary dysfunction in 1, cholangitis in 1, and pneumonitis in 1. Patients experiencing irAEs had higher levels of CD86+plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) at the baseline and weeks 2 and 8 after the ICIs than those not experiencing irAEs (p = 0.005, 0.038, and 0.050, respectively). In patients experiencing irAEs, the levels of CD86+pDCs significantly decreased at weeks 2 and 8 compared to the baseline (p = 0 .034 and 0.025, respectively) but did not change in those not experiencing irAEs. The levels of other PBMC subsets were not significantly associated with irAEs. Higher levels of natural killer (NK) cells were significantly associated with an overall objective response (p = 0.024). In conclusion, higher levels of CD86+pDCs at the baseline and a reduction in those levels 2 and 8 weeks after ICIs were associated with the occurrence of irAEs. Higher levels of NK cells were associated with an objective response to ICIs. Evaluation of PBMCs may help to predict the efficacy and safety of ICIs.

Keywords: CD86+plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs); immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs); immune-related adverse events (irAEs); immunotherapy; peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs).