Purpose: This study characterizes intratumoural macrophage populations within baseline melanoma biopsies from patients with advanced melanoma who received either anti-PD-1 monotherapy or 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 immunohistochemistry in relation to treatment outcomes.
Results: Patients who responded to combination ICI 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 significant longer 3-year progression-free survival was observed in combination treated patients with high intratumoral densities of CD16+ macrophages compared to 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).
Conclusion: Our data demonstrates that tumor environments enriched with CD16+ macrophages are favorable for response to combination anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 therapy but not anti-PD-1 monotherapy. This data provides a potential biomarker of response for combination immunotherapies in patients with metastatic melanoma.