In preclinical studies, pomalidomide mediated both direct antitumor effects and immune activation by binding cereblon. However, the impact of drug-induced immune activation and cereblon/ikaros in antitumor effects of pomalidomide in vivo is unknown. Here we evaluated the clinical and pharmacodynamic effects of continuous or intermittent dosing strategies of pomalidomide/dexamethasone in lenalidomide-refractory myeloma in a randomized trial. Intermittent dosing led to greater tumor reduction at the cost of more frequent adverse events. Both cohorts experienced similar event-free and overall survival. Both regimens led to a distinct pattern but similar degree of mid-cycle immune activation, manifested as increased expression of cytokines and lytic genes in T and natural killer (NK) cells. Pomalidomide induced poly-functional T-cell activation, with increased proportion of coinhibitory receptor BTLA+T cells and Tim-3+NK cells. Baseline levels of ikaros and aiolos protein in tumor cells did not correlate with response or survival. Pomalidomide led to rapid decline in Ikaros in T and NK cells in vivo, and therapy-induced activation of CD8+T cells correlated with clinical response. These data demonstrate that pomalidomide leads to strong and rapid immunomodulatory effects involving both innate and adaptive immunity, even in heavily pretreated multiple myeloma, which correlates with clinical antitumor effects.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology