Intratumoral CD16+ Macrophages Are Associated with Clinical Outcomes of Patients with Metastatic Melanoma Treated with Combination Anti-PD-1 and Anti-CTLA-4 Therapy

Clin Cancer Res. 2023 Jul 5;29(13):2513-2524. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-22-2657.


Purpose: This study characterizes intratumoral macrophage populations within baseline melanoma biopsies from patients with advanced melanoma who received either anti-PD-1 monotherapy or a combination with anti-CTLA-4. Particularly, FcγRIIIa (CD16)-expressing macrophage densities were investigated for associations with response and progression-free survival.

Experimental design: Patients with advanced melanoma who received either anti-PD-1 monotherapy or combination anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 were retrospectively identified. Macrophage populations were analyzed within baseline melanoma biopsies via multiplex IHC in relation to treatment outcomes.

Results: Patients who responded to combination immune checkpoint inhibitor contained higher CD16+ macrophage densities than those who did not respond (196 vs. 7 cells/mm2; P = 0.0041). There was no diffidence in CD16+ macrophage densities in the PD-1 monotherapy-treated patients based on response (118 vs. 89 cells/mm2; P = 0.29). A significantly longer 3-year progression-free survival was observed in combination-treated patients with high intratumoral densities of CD16+ macrophages compared with those with low densities (87% vs. 42%, P = 0.0056, n = 40). No association was observed in anti-PD-1 monotherapy-treated patients (50% vs. 47%, P = 0.4636, n = 50). Melanoma biopsies with high densities of CD16+ macrophages contained upregulated gene expression of critical T-cell recruiting chemokines (CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11).

Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that tumor microenvironments enriched with CD16+ macrophages are favorable for response to combination anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 therapy but not anti-PD-1 monotherapy. These data provides a potential biomarker of response for combination immunotherapies in patients with metastatic melanoma. See related commentary by Smithy and Luke, p. 2345.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • CTLA-4 Antigen / immunology
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary*
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor / immunology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • CTLA-4 Antigen