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Prognostic role of gamma-glutamyl transferase in metastatic melanoma patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors

Journal Paper/Review - Oct 28, 2020

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Citation
Winter J, Lenders M, Gassenmaier M, Forschner A, Leiter U, Weide B, Purde M, Flatz L, Cozzio A, Röcken M, Garbe C, Eigentler T, Wagner N. Prognostic role of gamma-glutamyl transferase in metastatic melanoma patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. Cancer Immunol Immunother 2020; 70:1089-1099.
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Journal Paper/Review (English)
Journal
Cancer Immunol Immunother 2020; 70
Publication Date
Oct 28, 2020
Issn Print
Issn Electronic
1432-0851
Pages
1089-1099
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Brief description/objective

BACKGROUND
Hepatic immune-related adverse events (irAE) including elevated liver function tests (transaminases) occur in 1.4-22.3% of melanoma patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICPI) and constitute a potentially serious toxicity that is challenging to treat. In contrast to the liver transaminases alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), only little is known about the frequency and impact of gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) elevations.

METHODS
GGT determined prior to and during therapy of metastatic melanoma patients treated with ICPI were retrospectively assessed in two independent cohorts (PD-1: n = 218, Ipi + Nivo: n = 148). Overall survival (OS) and best objective response were analyzed according to baseline and immune-related GGT (irGGT) elevations during treatment.

RESULTS
In multivariate analysis, OS was reduced in patients with elevated baseline GGT (PD-1 group: hazard ratio [HR] 1.76, p = .0073; Ipi + Nivo group: HR 1.77, p = .032). Immune-related GGT elevation was recorded in 17% (PD-1 group) and 38.5% (Ipi + Nivo group). Of these patients, the majority (81 and 68%, respectively) had normal ALT and AST and showed no clinical signs of hepatotoxicity. Patients who experienced irGGT elevation had superior response (PD-1 group: odds ratio [OR] 3.57, p = .00072; Ipi + Nivo group: OR 1.74, p = .12) and OS (PD-1 group: HR 0.37, p = .0016; Ipi + Nivo group: HR 0.33, p = .00050).

CONCLUSIONS
The frequency of hepatic irAE is currently underestimated. The addition of the sensitive enzyme GGT to the laboratory panel before and during therapy with ICPI allows to detect two to three times more patients developing hepatic or hepatobiliary toxicity than known so far. Immune-related GGT elevations correlate with response and favorable survival. Precis for use in the Table of Contents The frequency of hepatotoxicity under immune checkpoint blockade is currently underestimated. We suggest the addition of gamma-glutamyl transferase to the laboratory panel in checkpoint inhibitor patients for the detection of hepatobiliary toxicity.