Resistance mechanisms in melanoma to immuneoncologic therapy with checkpoint inhibitors

Sarah E. Fenton, Jeffrey A. Sosman, Sunandana Chandra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Checkpoint inhibitors act by blocking physiologic mechanisms coopted by tumor cells to evade immune surveillance, restoring the immune system’s ability to identify and kill malignant cells. These therapies have dramatically improved outcomes in multiple tumor types with durable responses in many patients, leading to FDA approval first in advanced melanoma, then in many other malignancies. However, as experience with checkpoint inhibitors has grown, populations of patients who are primary nonresponders or develop secondary resistance have been the majority of cases, even in melanoma. Mechanisms of resistance include those inherent to the tumor microenvironment, the tumor cells themselves, and the function of the patient’s native immune cells. This review will discuss resistance to checkpoint inhibitors in melanoma as well as possible methods to restore sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)744-761
Number of pages18
JournalCancer Drug Resistance
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Checkpoint inhibitor
  • Melanoma
  • Nonresponder
  • Resistance
  • Secondary resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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