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21-03-2017 | Basal cell carcinoma | Article

Basal cell carcinoma: PD-L1/PD-1 checkpoint expression and tumor regression after PD-1 blockade

Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer

Authors: Evan J. Lipson, Mohammed T. Lilo, Aleksandra Ogurtsova, Jessica Esandrio, Haiying Xu, Patricia Brothers, Megan Schollenberger, William H. Sharfman, Janis M. Taube

Publisher: BioMed Central


Monoclonal antibodies that block immune regulatory proteins such as programmed death-1 (PD-1) have demonstrated remarkable efficacy in controlling the growth of multiple tumor types. Unresectable or metastatic basal cell carcinoma, however, has largely gone untested. Because PD-Ligand-1 (PD-L1) expression in other tumor types has been associated with response to anti-PD-1, we investigated the expression of PD-L1 and its association with PD-1 expression in the basal cell carcinoma tumor microenvironment. Among 40 basal cell carcinoma specimens, 9/40 (22%) demonstrated PD-L1 expression on tumor cells, and 33/40 (82%) demonstrated PD-L1 expression on tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and associated macrophages. PD-L1 was observed in close geographic association to PD-1+ tumor infiltrating lymphocytes. Additionally, we present, here, the first report of an objective anti-tumor response to pembrolizumab (anti-PD-1) in a patient with metastatic PD-L1 (+) basal cell carcinoma, whose disease had previously progressed through hedgehog pathway-directed therapy. The patient remains in a partial response 14 months after initiation of therapy. Taken together, our findings provide a rationale for testing anti-PD-1 therapy in patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma, either as initial treatment or after acquired resistance to hedgehog pathway inhibition.

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