Interferon-gamma signature as prognostic and predictive marker in macroscopic stage III melanoma

J Immunother Cancer. 2024 Apr 27;12(4):e008125. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2023-008125.


Background: A substantial proportion of patients with macroscopic stage III melanoma do not benefit sufficiently from adjuvant anti-PD-1 therapy, as they either recur despite therapy or would never have recurred. To better inform adjuvant treatment selection, we have performed translational analyses to identify prognostic and predictive biomarkers.

Patients and methods: Two cohorts of patients with macroscopic stage III melanoma from an ongoing biobank study were included. Clinical data were compared between an observation cohort (cohort 1) and an adjuvant intention cohort (cohort 2). RNA sequencing for translational analyses was performed and treatment subgroups (cohort 1A and cohort 2A) were compared for possible biomarkers, using a cut-off based on the treatment-naïve patients. In addition, two validation cohorts (Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) and University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMCU)) were obtained.

Results: After a median follow-up of 26 months of the 98 patients in our discovery set, median recurrence-free survival (RFS) was significantly longer for the adjuvant intention cohort (cohort 2, n=49) versus the observation cohort (cohort 1, n=49). Median overall survival was not reached for either cohort, nor significantly different. In observation cohort 1A (n=24), RFS was significantly longer for patients with high interferon-gamma (IFNγ) score (p=0.002); for adjuvant patients of cohort 2A (n=24), a similar trend was observed (p=0.086). Patients with high B cell score had a longer RFS in cohort 1A, but no difference was seen in cohort 2A. The B cell score based on RNA correlated with CD20+ cells in tumor area but was not independent from the IFNγ score. In the MIA validation cohort (n=44), longer RFS was observed for patients with high IFNγ score compared with low IFNγ score (p=0.046), no difference in RFS was observed according to the B cell score. In both the observation (n=11) and the adjuvant (n=11) UMCU validation cohorts, no difference in RFS was seen for IFNγ and B cell.

Conclusions: IFNγ has shown to be a prognostic marker in both patients who were and were not treated with adjuvant therapy. B cell score was prognostic but did not improve accuracy over IFNγ. Our study confirmed RFS benefit of adjuvant anti-PD-1 for patients with macroscopic stage III melanoma.

Keywords: Adjuvant Drug Therapy; Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor; Melanoma; Tumor Biomarkers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma* / metabolism
  • Male
  • Melanoma* / drug therapy
  • Melanoma* / mortality
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging*
  • Prognosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms / immunology
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Interferon-gamma