Background: We sought to ascertain the immune effector function of pembrolizumab within the glioblastoma (GBM) microenvironment during the therapeutic window. Methods: In an open-label, single-center, single-arm phase II "window-of-opportunity" trial in 15 patients with recurrent (operable) GBM receiving up to 2 pembrolizumab doses before surgery and every 3 weeks afterward until disease progression or unacceptable toxicities occurred, immune responses were evaluated within the tumor. Results: No treatment-related deaths occurred. Overall median follow-up time was 50 months. Of 14 patients monitored, 10 had progressive disease, 3 had a partial response, and 1 had stable disease. Median progression-free survival (PFS) was 4.5 months (95% CI: 2.27, 6.83), and the 6-month PFS rate was 40%. Median overall survival (OS) was 20 months, with an estimated 1-year OS rate of 63%. GBM patients' recurrent tumors contained few T cells that demonstrated a paucity of immune activation markers, but the tumor microenvironment was markedly enriched for CD68+ macrophages. Conclusions: Immune analyses indicated that pembrolizumab anti-programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) monotherapy alone can't induce effector immunologic response in most GBM patients, probably owing to a scarcity of T cells within the tumor microenvironment and a CD68+ macrophage preponderance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- Cancer Research