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.
©2023 American Association for Cancer Research.