Immune checkpoint inhibitors in patients with pre-existing psoriasis: safety and efficacy

Halle BR, Betof Warner A, Zaman FY, Haydon A, Bhave P, Dewan AK, Ye F, Irlmeier R, Mehta P, Kurtansky NR, Lacouture ME, Hassel JC, Choi JS, Sosman JA, Chandra S, Otto TS, Sullivan R, Mooradian MJ, Chen ST, Dimitriou F, Long G, Carlino M, Menzies A, Johnson DB, Rotemberg VM. J Immunother Cancer. (Epub 11 Oct 2021)


Background: Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) are approved to treat multiple cancers. Retrospective analyses demonstrate acceptable safety of ICIs in most patients with autoimmune disease, although disease exacerbation may occur. Psoriasis vulgaris is a common, immune-mediated disease, and outcomes of ICI treatment in patients with psoriasis are not well described. Thus we sought to define the safety profile and effectiveness of ICIs in patients with pre-existing psoriasis.

Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, patients from eight academic centers with pre-existing psoriasis who received ICI treatment for cancer were evaluated. Main safety outcomes were psoriasis exacerbation and immune-related adverse events (irAEs). We also assessed progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival.

Results: Of 76 patients studied (50 (66%) male; median age 67 years; 62 (82%) with melanoma, 5 (7%) with lung cancer, 2 (3%) with head and neck cancer, and 7 (9%) with other cancers; median follow-up 25.1 months (range=0.2-99 months)), 51 (67%) received anti-PD-1 antibodies, 8 (11%) anti-CTLA-4, and 17 (22%) combination of anti-PD-1/CTLA-4. All patients had pre-existing psoriasis, most frequently plaque psoriasis (46 patients (61%)) and 15 (20%) with psoriatic arthritis. Forty-one patients (54%) had received any prior therapy for psoriasis although only two (3%) were on systemic immunosuppression at ICI initiation. With ICI treatment, 43 patients (57%) experienced a psoriasis flare of cutaneous and/or extracutaneous disease after a median of 44 days of receiving ICI. Of those who experienced a flare, 23 patients (53%) were managed with topical therapy only; 16 (21%) needed systemic therapy. Only five patients (7%) required immunotherapy discontinuation for psoriasis flare. Forty-five patients (59%) experienced other irAEs, 17 (22%) of which were grade 3/4. PFS with landmark analysis was significantly longer in patients with a psoriasis flare versus those without (39 vs 8.7 months, p=0.049).

Conclusions: In this multicenter study, ICI therapy was associated with frequent psoriasis exacerbation, although flares were manageable with standard psoriasis treatments and few required ICI discontinuation. Patients who experienced disease exacerbation performed at least as well as those who did not. Thus, pre-existing psoriasis should not prevent patients from receiving ICIs for treatment of malignancy.