Seremet T et al.
Ipilimumab (Ipi) improves the survival of advanced melanoma patients with an incremental long-term benefit in 10–15 % of patients. A tumor signature that correlates with this survival benefit could help optimizing individualized treatment strategies.
Freshly frozen melanoma metastases were collected from patients treated with either Ipi alone (n: 7) or Ipi combined with a dendritic cell vaccine (TriMixDC-MEL) (n: 11). Samples were profiled by immunohistochemistry (IHC), whole transcriptome (RNA-seq) and methyl-DNA sequencing (MBD-seq).
Patients were divided in two groups according to clinical evolution: durable benefit (DB; 5 patients) and no clinical benefit (NB; 13 patients). 20 metastases were profiled by IHC and 12 were profiled by RNA- and MBD-seq. 325 genes were identified as differentially expressed between DB and NB. Many of these genes reflected a humoral and cellular immune response. MBD-seq revealed differences between DB and NB patients in the methylation of genes linked to nervous system development and neuron differentiation. DB tumors were more infiltrated by CD8+ and PD-L1+ cells than NB tumors. B cells (CD20+) and macrophages (CD163+) co-localized with T cells. Focal loss of HLA class I and TAP-1 expression was observed in several NB samples.
Combined analyses of melanoma metastases with IHC, gene expression and methylation profiling can potentially identify durable responders to Ipi-based immunotherapy.