Clonal expansion of CD8 T cells in the systemic circulation precedes development of ipilimumab-induced toxicities.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Volume 113, Issue 42, p.11919-11924 (2016)


Immune checkpoint therapies, such as ipilimumab, induce dramatic antitumor responses in a subset of patients with advanced malignancies, but they may also induce inflammatory responses and toxicities termed immune-related adverse events (irAEs). These irAEs are often low grade and manageable, but severe irAEs may lead to prolonged hospitalizations or fatalities. Early intervention is necessary to minimize morbidities that occur with severe irAEs. However, correlative biomarkers are currently lacking. In a phase II clinical trial that treated 27 patients with metastatic prostate cancer, we aimed to test the safety and efficacy of androgen deprivation therapy plus ipilimumab. In this study, we observed grade 3 toxicities in >40% of treated patients, which led to early closure of the study. Because ipilimumab enhances T-cell responses, we hypothesized that increased clonal T-cell responses in the systemic circulation may contribute to irAEs. Sequencing of the T-cell receptor β-chains in purified T cells revealed clonal expansion of CD8 T cells, which occurred in blood samples collected before the onset of grade 2-3 irAEs. These initial results suggested that expansion of ≥55 CD8 T-cell clones preceded the development of severe irAEs. We further evaluated available blood samples from a second trial and determined that patients who experienced grade 2-3 irAEs also had expansion of ≥55 CD8 T-cell clones in blood samples collected before the onset of irAEs. We propose that CD8 T-cell clonal expansion may be a correlative biomarker to enable close monitoring and early intervention for patients receiving ipilimumab.