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J Immunother Cancer


BACKGROUND: Checkpoint inhibitors can induce profound anticancer responses, but programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) inhibition monotherapy has shown minimal activity in prostate cancer. A published report showed that men with prostate cancer who were resistant to the second-generation androgen receptor inhibitor enzalutamide had increased programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression on circulating antigen-presenting cells. We hypothesized that the addition of PD-1 inhibition in these patients could induce a meaningful cancer response.

METHODS: We evaluated enzalutamide plus the PD-1 inhibitor pembrolizumab in a single-arm phase II study of 28 men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mprogressing on enzalutamide alone. Pembrolizumab 200 mg intravenous was given every 3 weeks for four doses with enzalutamide. The primary endpoint was prostate-specific antigen (PSA) decline of ≥50%. Secondary endpoints were objective response, PSA progression-free survival (PFS), time to subsequent treatment, and time to death. Baseline tumor biopsies were obtained when feasible, and samples were sequenced and evaluated for the expression of PD-L1, microsatellite instability (MSI), mutational and neoepitope burdens.

RESULTS: Five (18%) of 28 patients had a PSA decline of ≥50%. Three (25%) of 12 patients with measurable disease at baseline achieved an objective response. Of the five responders, two continue with PSA and radiographic response after 39.3 and 37.8 months. For the entire cohort, median follow-up was 37 months, and median PSA PFS time was 3.8 months (95% CI: 2.8 to 9.9 months). Time to subsequent treatment was 7.21 months (95% CI: 5.1 to 11.1 months). Median overall survival for all patients was 21.9 months (95% CI: 14.7 to 28 .4 months), versus 41.7 months (95% CI: 22.16 to not reached (NR)) in the responders. Of the three responders with baseline biopsies, one had MSI high disease with mutations consistent with DNA-repair defects. None had detectable PD-L1 expression.

CONCLUSIONS: Pembrolizumab has activity in mCRPC when added to enzalutamide. Responses were deep and durable and did not require tumor PD-L1 expression or DNA-repair defects.


Clinical Institute



Earle A. Chiles Research Institute