Genomic Instability and Protumoral Inflammation Are Associated with Primary Resistance to Anti-PD-1 + Antiangiogenesis in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Cancer Discov. 2023 Apr 3;13(4):858-879. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-22-0886.


Cancer immunotherapy combinations have recently been shown to improve the overall survival of advanced mesotheliomas, especially for patients responding to those treatments. We aimed to characterize the biological correlates of malignant pleural mesotheliomas' primary resistance to immunotherapy and antiangiogenics by testing the combination of pembrolizumab, an anti-PD-1 antibody, and nintedanib, a pan-antiangiogenic tyrosine kinase inhibitor, in the multicenter PEMBIB trial (NCT02856425). Thirty patients with advanced malignant pleural mesothelioma were treated and explored. Unexpectedly, we found that refractory patients were actively recruiting CD3+CD8+ cytotoxic T cells in their tumors through CXCL9 tumor release upon treatment. However, these patients displayed high levels of somatic copy-number alterations in their tumors that correlated with high blood and tumor levels of IL6 and CXCL8. Those proinflammatory cytokines resulted in higher tumor secretion of VEGF and tumor enrichment in regulatory T cells. Advanced mesothelioma should further benefit from stratified combination therapies adapted to their tumor biology.

Significance: Sequential explorations of fresh tumor biopsies demonstrated that mesothelioma resistance to anti-PD-1 + antiangiogenics is not due to a lack of tumor T-cell infiltration but rather due to adaptive immunosuppressive pathways by tumors, involving molecules (e.g., IL6, CXCL8, VEGF, and CTLA4) that are amenable to targeted therapies. This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 799.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Genomic Instability
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lung Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Mesothelioma* / drug therapy
  • Mesothelioma* / genetics
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant*
  • Pleural Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Pleural Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A


  • Interleukin-6
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A