Product(s) used in this publication: PepTrack™ Peptide Libraries
Ipilimumab, a monoclonal antibody against cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4), has been shown to improve survival in patients with advanced metastatic melanoma. It also enhances immunity to NY-ESO-1, a cancer/testis antigen expressed in a subset of patients with melanoma. To characterize the association between immune response and clinical outcome, we first analyzed NY-ESO-1 serum antibody by ELISA in 144 ipilimumab-treated patients with melanoma and found 22 of 140 (16%) seropositive at baseline and 31 of 144 (22%) seropositive following treatment. These NY-ESO-1-seropositive patients had a greater likelihood of experiencing clinical benefit 24 wk after ipilimumab treatment than NY-ESO-1-seronegative patients (P = 0.02, relative risk = 1.8, two-tailed Fisher test). To understand why some patients with NY-ESO-1 antibody failed to experience clinical benefit, we analyzed NY-ESO-1-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell responses by intracellular multicytokine staining in 20 NY-ESO-1-seropositive patients and found a surprising dissociation between NY-ESO-1 antibody and CD8 responses in some patients. NY-ESO-1-seropositive patients with associated CD8(+) T cells experienced more frequent clinical benefit (10 of 13; 77%) than those with undetectable CD8(+) T-cell response (one of seven; 14%; P = 0.02; relative risk = 5.4, two-tailed Fisher test), as well as a significant survival advantage (P = 0.01; hazard ratio = 0.2, time-dependent Cox model). Together, our data suggest that integrated NY-ESO-1 immune responses may have predictive value for ipilimumab treatment and argue for prospective studies in patients with established NY-ESO-1 immunity. The current findings provide a strong rationale for the clinical use of modulators of immunosuppression with concurrent approaches to favor tumor antigen-specific immune responses, such as vaccines or adoptive transfer, in patients with cancer.