Distinct Immune Cell Populations Define Response to Anti-PD-1 Monotherapy and Anti-PD-1/Anti-CTLA-4 Combined Therapy
Cancer immunotherapies provide survival benefits in responding patients, but many patients fail to respond. Identifying the biology of treatment response and resistance are a priority to optimize drug selection and improve patient outcomes. We performed transcriptomic and immune profiling on 158 tumor biopsies from melanoma patients treated with anti-PD-1 monotherapy (n = 63) or combined anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 (n = 57). These data identified activated T cell signatures and T cell populations in responders to both treatments. Further mass cytometry analysis identified an EOMES+CD69+CD45RO+ effector memory T cell phenotype that was significantly more abundant in responders to combined immunotherapy compared with non-responders (n = 18). The gene expression profile of this population was associated with longer progression-free survival in patients treated with single agent and greater tumor shrinkage in both treatments.