Pathologic features of response to neoadjuvant anti-PD-1 in resected non-small-cell lung carcinoma: A proposal for quantitative immune-related pathologic response criteria (irPRC)

T. R. Cottrell, Elizabeth Thompson, Patrick Forde, J. E. Stein, Amy S Duffield, Valsamo Anagnostou, N. Rekhtman, Robert A Anders, J. D. Cuda, Peter B Illei, Edward Gabrielson, Frederic B Askin, N. Niknafs, Kellie Smith, M. J. Velez, J. L. Sauter, J. M. Isbell, D. R. Jones, Richard J Battafarano, Stephen C YangLiudmila V Danilova, J. D. Wolchok, Suzanne Topalian, Victor E Velculescu, Andrew Mark Pardoll, Julie Brahmer, M. D. Hellmann, J. E. Chaft, Ashley M Cimino-Mathews, Janis M Taube

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Neoadjuvant anti-PD-1 May improve outcomes for patients with resectable NSCLC and provides a critical window for examining pathologic features associated with response. Resections showing major pathologic response to neoadjuvant therapy, defined as 10% residual viable tumor (RVT), May predict improved long-term patient outcome. However, %RVT calculations were developed in the context of chemotherapy (%cRVT). An immune-related %RVT (%irRVT) has yet to be developed. Patients and methods: The first trial of neoadjuvant anti-PD-1 (nivolumab, NCT02259621) was just reported. We analyzed hematoxylin and eosin-stained slides from the post-treatment resection specimens of the 20 patients with non-small-cell lung carcinoma who underwent definitive surgery. Pretreatment tumor biopsies and preresection radiographic ‘tumor’ measurements were also assessed. Results: We found that the regression bed (the area of immune-mediated tumor clearance) accounts for the previously noted discrepancy between CT imaging and pathologic assessment of residual tumor. The regression bed is characterized by (i) immune activation—dense tumor infiltrating lymphocytes with macrophages and tertiary lymphoid structures; (ii) massive tumor cell death—cholesterol clefts; and (iii) tissue repair—neovascularization and proliferative fibrosis (each feature enriched in major pathologic responders versus nonresponders, P < 0.05). This distinct constellation of histologic findings was not identified in any pretreatment specimens. Histopathologic features of the regression bed were used to develop ‘Immune-Related Pathologic Response Criteria’ (irPRC), and these criteria were shown to be reproducible amongst pathologists. Specifically, %irRVT had improved interobserver consistency compared with %cRVT [median per-case %RVT variability 5% (0%–29%) versus 10% (0%–58%), P ¼ 0.007] and a twofold decrease in median standard deviation across pathologists within a sample (4.6 versus 2.2, P ¼ 0.002). Conclusions: irPRC May be used to standardize pathologic assessment of immunotherapeutic efficacy. Long-term follow-up is needed to determine irPRC reliability as a surrogate for recurrence-free and overall survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1853-1860
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018



  • IrPRC
  • Lung carcinoma
  • Neoadjuvant
  • Pathologic response
  • PD-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology

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