Purpose: A phase I clinical trial (GOG-9929) examined the safety and efficacy of adjuvant immune-modulation therapy with the checkpoint inhibitor ipilimumab [anti-CTL antigen-4 (anti-CTLA-4)] following chemoradiation therapy (CRT) for newly diagnosed node-positive human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cervical cancer. To better understand the mechanism of action and to identify predictive biomarkers, immunologic and viral correlates were assessed before, during, and after treatment. Patients and Methods: Twenty-one patients who received CRT and ≥2 doses of ipilimumab and 5 patients who received CRT only were evaluable for translational endpoints. Circulating T-cell subsets were evaluated by multiparameter flow cytometry. Cytokines were evaluated by multiplex ELISA. HPV-specific T cells were evaluated in a subset of patients by IFNg ELISpot. Results: Expression of the activation markers ICOS and PD-1 significantly increased on T-cell subsets following CRT and were sustained or increased following ipilimumab treatment. Combined CRT/ipilimumab treatment resulted in a significant expansion of both central and effector memory T-cell populations. Genotype-specific E6/E7-specific T-cell responses increased post-CRT in 1 of 8 HPV16þ patients and in 2 of 3 HPV18þ patients. Elevation in levels of tumor-promoting circulating cytokines (TNFa, IL6, IL8) post-CRT was significantly associated with worse progression-free survival. Conclusions: Our data indicate that CRT alone and combined with ipilimumab immunotherapy show immune-modulating activity in women with locally advanced cervical cancer and may be a promising therapeutic option for the enhancement of antitumor immune cell function after primary CRT for this population at high risk for recurrence and metastasis. Several key immune biomarkers were identified that were associated with clinical response.
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