Peripheral blood biomarkers correlate with outcomes in advanced non-small cell lung Cancer patients treated with anti-PD-1 antibodies

Aixa E. Soyano, Bhagirathbhai Dholaria, Julian A. Marin-Acevedo, Nancy Diehl, David Hodge, Yan Luo, Rami Manochakian, Saranya Chumsri, Alex Adjei, Keith L. Knutson, Yanyan Lou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Anti-programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) antibodies have demonstrated improved overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) in a subset of patients with metastatic or locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). To date, no blood biomarkers have been identified in NSCLC to predict clinical outcomes of treatment with anti-PD-1 antibodies. Patient and methods: We performed an analysis of retrospectively registered data of 157 patients with advanced NSCLC treated with anti-PD-1 antibodies at Mayo Clinic in Florida and Rochester. White blood cell count, absolute neutrophil count (ANC), absolute lymphocyte count (ALC), ANC to ALC (ANC: ALC) ratio, absolute eosinophil count, absolute monocyte count (AMC), platelet counts, and myeloid to lymphoid (M:L) ratio at baseline and throughout treatment were assessed. Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards model were performed. Results: We treated 146 patients with nivolumab and 11 with pembrolizumab between January 1, 2015 and April 15, 2017. At median follow-up of 20 months, median OS and PFS were 6.0 and 2.6 months, respectively. Higher baseline ANC, AMC, ANC: ALC ratio and M: L ratio correlated with worse clinical outcomes in patients who underwent anti-PD-1 treatment. A baseline ANC: ALC ratio of 5.9 or higher had a significantly increased risk of death (hazard ratio [HR] =1.94; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.24-3.03; P = 0.004) and disease progression (HR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.17-2.34; P = 0.005) compared with patients with lower ratio. Similarly, a baseline M: L ratio of 11.3 or higher had significantly increased risk of death (HR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.54-4.05; P < 0.001), even after a multivariate analysis (HR, 2.31; P = 0.002), compared to those with lower ratio. Conclusions: Increased baseline ANC: ALC ratio and M: L ratio before initiation of anti-PD1 antibodies were associated with poor PFS and OS in advanced NSCLC patients. The potential predictive value of these readily available biomarkers might help with risk stratification and treatment strategies. These findings warrant further investigation in a larger, prospective study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number129
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 23 2018


  • Anti-PD-1
  • Immunotherapy
  • Nivolumab
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Pembrolizumab
  • Relapse/progression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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