Safety of programmed death-1 pathway inhibitors among patients with non-small-cell lung cancer and preexisting autoimmune disorders

Giulia C. Leonardi, Justin F. Gainor, Mehmet Altan, Sasha Kravets, Suzanne E. Dahlberg, Lydia Gedmintas, Roxana Azimi, Hira Rizvi, Jonathan Riess, Matthew D. Hellmann, Mark M. Awad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


Purpose Although programmed death (PD)-1 pathway inhibitors are now used in nearly all patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the large number of patients with NSCLC and concurrent autoimmune disease (AID) have been universally excluded from immunotherapy clinical trials. Therefore, the safety of PD-1 and PD-ligand 1 (PD-L1) inhibitors in patients with NSCLC and underlying AID is currently unknown. Methods As part of a multi-institutional effort, we retrospectively collected clinicopathologic data from patients with NSCLC and a history of AID who received monotherapy with either a PD-1 or a PD-L1 (herein referred to as PD-[L]1) inhibitor. Qualifying AIDS included but were not limited to: Rheumatologic, neurologic, endocrine, GI, and dermatologic conditions. Results We identified 56 patients with NSCLC and an AID who received a PD-(L)1 inhibitor. At the time of treatment initiation, 18% of patients had active AID symptoms and 20% were receiving immunomodulatory agents for their AID. A total of 55% of patients developed an AID flare and/or an immune-related adverse event (irAE). Exacerbation of the AID occurred in 13 patients (23% of the whole cohort), four of whom required systemic corticosteroids. Immune-related adverse events occurred in 21 patients (38%). Among irAEs, 74% were grade 1 or 2 and 26% were grade 3 or 4; eight patients required corticosteroids for irAE management. PD-(L)1 therapy was permanently discontinued in eight patients (14%) because of irAEs. The overall response rate to immunotherapy in this population was 22%. Conclusion In patients with NSCLC with AID treated with a PD-(L)1 inhibitor, exacerbation of AID occurred in a minority of patients. The incidence of irAEs was similar to reported rates in clinical trials where patients with AID were excluded. Adverse events were generally manageable and infrequently led to permanent discontinuation of immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1905-1912
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Safety of programmed death-1 pathway inhibitors among patients with non-small-cell lung cancer and preexisting autoimmune disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this