Purpose: Approximately 10% of patients with mismatch repair-proficient (MMRp) colorectal cancer showed clinical benefit to anti-PD-1 monotherapy (NCT01876511). We sought to identify biomarkers that delineate patients with immunoreactive colorectal cancer and to explore new combinatorial immunotherapy strategies that can impact MMRp colorectal cancer. Experimental Design: We compared the expression of 44 selected immune-related genes in the primary colon tumor of 19 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) who responded (n = 13) versus those who did not (n = 6) to anti- PD-1 therapy (NCT01876511). We define a 10 gene-based immune signature that could distinguish responder from nonresponder. Resected colon specimens (n = 14) were used to validate the association of the predicted status (responder and nonresponder) with the immune-related gene expression, the phenotype, and the function of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes freshly isolated from the same tumors. Results: Although both IL17Low and IL17High immunoreactive MMRp colorectal cancers are associated with intratumor correlates of adaptive immunosuppression (CD8/ IFNγ and PD-L1/IDO1 colocalization), only IL17Low MMRp tumors (3/14) have a tumor immune microenvironment (TiME) that resembles the TiME in primary colon tumors of patients with mCRC responsive to anti-PD-1 treatment. Conclusions: The detection of a preexisting antitumor immune response in MMRp colorectal cancer (immunoreactive MMRp colorectal cancer) is not sufficient to predict a clinical benefit to T-cell checkpoint inhibitors. Intratumoral IL17-mediated signaling may preclude responses to immunotherapy. Drugs targeting the IL17 signaling pathway are available in clinic, and their combination with T-cell checkpoint inhibitors could improve colorectal cancer immunotherapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research