Safety and efficacy of restarting immune checkpoint inhibitors after clinically significant immune-related adverse events in metastatic renal cell carcinoma.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) induce a range of immune-related adverse events (irAEs) with various degrees of severity. While clinical experience with ICI retreatment following clinically significant irAEs is growing, the safety and efficacy are not yet well characterized.

This multicenter retrospective study identified patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma treated with ICI who had >1 week therapy interruption for irAEs. Patients were classified into retreatment and discontinuation cohorts based on whether or not they resumed an ICI. Toxicity and clinical outcomes were assessed descriptively.

Of 499 patients treated with ICIs, 80 developed irAEs warranting treatment interruption; 36 (45%) of whom were restarted on an ICI and 44 (55%) who permanently discontinued. Median time to initial irAE was similar between the retreatment and discontinuation cohorts (2.8 vs 2.7 months, p=0.59). The type and grade of irAEs were balanced across the cohorts; however, fewer retreatment patients required corticosteroids (55.6% vs 84.1%, p=0.007) and hospitalizations (33.3% vs 65.9%, p=0.007) for irAE management compared with discontinuation patients. Median treatment holiday before reinitiation was 0.9 months (0.2-31.6). After retreatment, 50% (n=18/36) experienced subsequent irAEs (12 new, 6 recurrent) with 7 (19%) grade 3 events and 13 drug interruptions. Median time to irAE recurrence after retreatment was 2.8 months (range: 0.3-13.8). Retreatment resulted in 6 (23.1%) additional responses in 26 patients whose disease had not previously responded. From first ICI initiation, median time to next therapy was 14.2 months (95% CI 8.2 to 18.9) and 9.0 months (5.3 to 25.8), and 2-year overall survival was 76% (95%CI 55% to 88%) and 66% (48% to 79%) in the retreatment and discontinuation groups, respectively.

Despite a considerable rate of irAE recurrence with retreatment after a prior clinically significant irAE, most irAEs were low grade and controllable. Prospective studies are warranted to confirm that retreatment enhances survival outcomes that justify the safety risks.

Journal for immunotherapy of cancer. 2020 Feb [Epub]

Sarah Abou Alaiwi, Wanling Xie, Amin H Nassar, Shaan Dudani, Dylan Martini, Ziad Bakouny, John A Steinharter, Pier Vitale Nuzzo, Ronan Flippot, Nieves Martinez-Chanza, Xiao Wei, Bradley A McGregor, Marina D Kaymakcalan, Daniel Y C Heng, Mehmet A Bilen, Toni K Choueiri, Lauren C Harshman

Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA., Department of Oncology, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada., Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Emory University Winship Cancer Institute, Atlanta, Georgia, USA., Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA .