The Annals of Thoracic Surgery 2021 September 27 [Link]

Hee-Jin Jang, Cynthia Y Truong, Eric M Lo, Hudson M Holmes, Daniela Ramos, Maheshwari Ramineni, Ju-Seog Lee, Daniel Y Wang, Massimo Pietropaolo, R Taylor Ripley, Bryan M Burt, Hyun-Sung Lee


Background: Despite the profound number of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) patients now treated with PD-1 blockade, insight into the underpinnings of rational therapeutic strategies to treat resistance to checkpoint immunotherapy remain unrealized. Our objective was to develop a novel therapeutic approach to overcome primary resistance to PD-1 blockade in MPM.

Methods: We generated a transcriptome signature of resistance to PD-1 blockade in MPM patients treated with nivolumab (four responders and four non-responders). We used the TCGA MPM cohort (N=73) to determine what genomic alterations were associated with the resistance signature. We tested whether regulation of identified molecules could overcome resistance to PD-1 blockade in an immunocompetent mouse malignant mesothelioma model.

Results: Immunogenomic analysis by applying our anti-PD-1 resistance signature to the TCGA cohort revealed that deletion of CDKN2A was highly associated with primary resistance to PD-1 blockade. Under the hypothesis that resistance to PD-1 blockade can be overcome by CDK4/6 inhibition, we tested whether CDK4/6 inhibitors could overcome resistance to PD-1 blockade in subcutaneous tumors derived from Cdkn2a(-/-) AB1 malignant mesothelioma cells, which were resistant to PD-1 blockade. The combination of daily oral administration of CDK4/6 inhibitors (abemaciclib or palbociclib) and intraperitoneal anti-PD-1 treatment markedly suppressed tumor growth, compared with anti-PD-1 or CDK4/6 inhibitor alone.

Conclusions: We identified a therapeutic target, CDK4/6, to overcome primary resistance to PD-1 blockade through comprehensive immunogenomic approaches. These data provide a rationale for undertaking clinical trials of CDK4/6 inhibitors in more than 40% of patients with MPM who demonstrate loss of CDKN2A.