Background Many cancer patients do not obtain clinical benefit from immune checkpoint inhibition. Checkpoint blockade targets T cells, suggesting that tyrosine kinase activity profiling of baseline peripheral blood mononuclear cells may predict clinical outcome. Methods Here a total of 160 patients with advanced melanoma or non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), treated with anti-cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (anti-CTLA-4) or anti-programmed cell death 1 (anti-PD-1), were divided into five discovery and cross-validation cohorts. The kinase activity profile was generated by analyzing phosphorylation of peripheral blood mononuclear cell lysates in a microarray comprising of 144 peptides derived from sites that are substrates for protein tyrosine kinases. Binary grouping into patients with or without clinical benefit was based on Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors V.1.1. Predictive models were trained using partial least square discriminant analysis (PLS-DA), performance of the models was evaluated by estimating the correct classification rate (CCR) using cross-validation. Results The kinase phosphorylation signatures segregated responders from non-responders by differences in canonical pathways governing T-cell migration, infiltration and co-stimulation. PLS-DA resulted in a CCR of 100% and 93% in the anti-CTLA-4 and anti-PD1 melanoma discovery cohorts, respectively. Cross-validation cohorts to estimate the accuracy of the predictive models showed CCRs of 83% for anti-CTLA-4 and 78% or 68% for anti-PD-1 in melanoma or NSCLC, respectively. Conclusion Blood-based kinase activity profiling for response prediction to immune checkpoint inhibitors in melanoma and NSCLC revealed increased kinase activity in pathways associated with T-cell function and led to a classification model with a highly accurate classification rate in cross-validation groups. The predictive value of kinase activity profiling is prospectively verified in an ongoing trial.

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Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Department of Pulmonology

Hurkmans, D., Verdegaal, E.M.E. (Els M.E.), Hogan, S.A. (Sabrina A.), De Wijn, R. (Rik), Hovestad, L. (Lies), Van Den Heuvel, D.M.A. (Dianne M.A.), … van der Burg, S. (2020). Blood-based kinase activity profiling: A potential predictor of response to immune checkpoint inhibition in metastatic cancer. Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, 8(2). doi:10.1136/jitc-2020-001607