Safety and efficacy of anti-PD-1 in patients with baseline cardiac, renal, or hepatic dysfunction

Bridgette A. Kanz, Megan H. Pollack, Romany Johnpulle, Igor Puzanov, Leora Horn, Alicia Morgans, Jeffrey A. Sosman, Suthee Rapisuwon, R. Martin Conry, Zeynep Eroglu, Douglas B. Johnson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background: Anti-PD-1 therapy is increasingly used in various advanced malignancies. Patients with baseline organ dysfunction are largely excluded from clinical trials. Therefore it is unclear whether anti-PD-1 therapy is safe or effective in this setting. Further, these patients are often not candidates for other anti-cancer therapies, highlighting their need for active treatment options. Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of patients from multiple centers with advanced solid tumors and baseline organ dysfunction who received anti-PD-1 therapy. Organ dysfunction was defined as cardiac (left ventricular ejection fraction ≤45%), renal (creatinine ≥2mg/dL or GFR ≤30ml/min) or hepatic dysfunction (evidence of cirrhosis on imaging or AST, ALT or bilirubin ≥3x ULN). We assessed change in organ dysfunction, immune related adverse events (irAEs), response rate, progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Results: We identified 27 patients eligible for inclusion with the following diseases: renal cell carcinoma (n=8), melanoma (10), non-small cell lung cancer (3), small cell lung cancer (2) and urothelial bladder cancer (4). Baseline organ dysfunction included renal dysfunction (n=17), hepatic dysfunction (7), cardiac dysfunction (11), including >1 organ dysfunction (8). Worsening organ dysfunction requiring hospitalization or dose delays occurred in 8 patients (30%) although in most cases this was thought not-drug related and resolved with supportive care. Grade 3 irAEs occurred in 2 pts (7%; hepatitis and colitis). Thirteen of 27 patients had ongoing treatment benefit (objective response or stable disease) at data collection (48%). Eleven patients had primary progressive disease (41%), 11 had stable disease (41%), 4 had partial responses (15%), and one had a complete response (4%). Overall, median PFS was 168days. Median OS was not reached. Conclusions: In our experience, anti-PD-1 agents in this group of patients with cardiac, hepatic or renal dysfunction were associated with tolerable irAEs and infrequent manageable worsening of organ dysfunction. Further, objective responses and prolonged PFS were observed in a number of patients. Thus, patients with baseline organ dysfunction may be considered for anti-PD-1 therapy with appropriate clinical monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number60
JournalJournal for immunotherapy of cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 18 2016


  • Anti-PD-1
  • Cardiac
  • Dysfunction
  • Hepatic
  • Melanoma
  • Nivolumab
  • Organ
  • Pembrolizumab
  • Renal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research

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