Pseudoprogression manifesting as recurrent ascites with anti-PD-1 immunotherapy in urothelial bladder cancer

Immunotherapies targeting the PD-1 checkpoint pathway have recently gained regulatory approval in numerous cancer types. With the widespread use of immune checkpoint therapies, varying patterns of responses and immune-related adverse events are being observed.

In this case, we highlight a patient who developed recurrent, large-volume ascites, while simultaneously having a 49% reduction in peritoneal tumor lesion size by RECIST criteria. Sampling of the fluid revealed high levels of IL-6 and IL-15. Cytology revealed no malignant cells on 4 separate paracenteses over a period of 6 weeks. Cell counts revealed that 45% of cells were lymphocytes, and further analysis was performed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). The majority of lymphocytes were CD8+, of which 78% were PD-1+and 43% were HLA-DR+indicating an activated phenotype.

In summary, treatment with anti-PD-1 therapy may result in pseudoprogression manifested by ascitic fluid accumulation due to the influx of activated T cells. Since worsening of ascites is typically associated with disease progression, it is important to consider the possibility of pesudoprogression in such patients undergoing therapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Journal for immunotherapy of cancer. 2018 Apr 04*** epublish ***

Randy F Sweis, Yuanyuan Zha, Lomax Pass, Brian Heiss, Tara Chongsuwat, Jason J Luke, Thomas F Gajewski, Russell Szmulewitz

Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Chicago Medicine, 5841 S. South Maryland Avenue, MC 2115, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA. ., Department of Pathology, University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, MC 2115, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA., University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, MC 2115, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA., Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Chicago Medicine, 5841 S. South Maryland Avenue, MC 2115, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA.

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