Phase II clinical trial of neoadjuvant anti-PD-1 (toripalimab) combined with axitinib in resectable mucosal melanoma

Ann Oncol. 2024 Feb;35(2):211-220. doi: 10.1016/j.annonc.2023.10.793. Epub 2023 Nov 11.


Background: The outcome of patients with resectable mucosal melanoma is poor. Toripalimab combined with axitinib has shown impressive results in metastatic mucosal melanoma with an objective response rate of 48.3% and a median progression-free survival of 7.5 months in a phase Ib trial. It was hypothesized that this combination administered in the neoadjuvant setting might induce a pathologic response in resectable mucosal melanoma, so we conducted this trial.

Patients and methods: This single-arm phase II trial enrolled patients with resectable mucosal melanoma. Patients received toripalimab 3 mg/kg once every 2 weeks (Q2W) plus axitinib 5 mg two times a day (b.i.d.) for 8 weeks as neoadjuvant therapy, then surgery and adjuvant toripalimab 3 mg/kg Q2W starting 2 ± 1weeks after surgery for 44 weeks. The primary endpoint was the pathologic response rate according to the International Neoadjuvant Melanoma Consortium recommendations.

Results: Between August 2019 and October 2021, 29 patients were enrolled and received treatment, of whom 24 underwent resection. The median follow-up time was 34.2 months (95% confidence interval 20.4-48.0 months). The pathologic response rate was 33.3% (8/24; 4 pathological complete responses and 4 pathological partial responses). The median event-free survival for all patients was 11.1 months (95% confidence interval 5.3-16.9 months). The median overall survival was not reached. Neoadjuvant therapy was tolerable with 8 (27.5%) grade 3-4 treatment-related adverse events and no treatment-related deaths. Tissue samples of 17 patients at baseline and after surgery were collected (5 responders and 12 nonresponders). Multiplex immunohistochemistry demonstrated a significant increase in CD3+ (P = 0.0032) and CD3+CD8+ (P = 0.0038) tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes after neoadjuvant therapy, particularly in pathological responders.

Conclusions: Neoadjuvant toripalimab combined with axitinib in resectable mucosal melanoma demonstrated a promising pathologic response rate with significantly increased infiltrating CD3+ and CD3+CD8+ T cells after therapy.

Keywords: axitinib; mucosal melanoma; neoadjuvant therapy; toripalimab.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Axitinib / adverse effects
  • Axitinib / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Melanoma* / drug therapy
  • Melanoma* / surgery
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy / methods
  • Neoplasm Staging


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Axitinib
  • toripalimab