Frequency of circulating CD8+CD73+T cells is associated with survival in nivolumab-treated melanoma patients

Mariaelena Capone, Federica Fratangelo, Diana Giannarelli, Claudia Sorrentino, Roberta Turiello, Serena Zanotta, Domenico Galati, Gabriele Madonna, Marilena Tuffanelli, Luigi Scarpato, Antonio M. Grimaldi, Assunta Esposito, Rosa Azzaro, Antonio Pinto, Ernesta Cavalcanti, Aldo Pinto, Silvana Morello, Paolo A. Ascierto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: PD-1 blocking agents, such as nivolumab, have demonstrated clear anti-tumor effects and clinical benefits in a subset of patients with advanced malignancies. Nonetheless, more efforts are needed to identify reliable biomarkers for outcome, to correctly select patients who will benefit from anti-PD-1 treatment. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of peripheral CD8+T cells expressing CD73, involved in the generation of the immune suppressive molecule adenosine, in predicting outcome after nivolumab treatment in advanced melanoma patients. METHODS: PBMCs from 100 melanoma patients treated with nivolumab were collected at National Cancer Institute "G. Pascale" of Naples. Frequencies of CD8+ lymphocytes phenotypes were assessed by flow cytometry at baseline before nivolumab treatment, along with clinical characteristics and blood count parameters. Healthy controls (n = 20) were also analysed. Percentages of baseline T cells expressing PD-1 and CD73 were correlated with outcome after nivolumab treatment. RESULTS: Melanoma patients presented a lower frequency of total circulating CD8+ lymphocytes than control subjects (p = 0.008). Patients with low baseline percentage of circulating CD8+PD-1+CD73+ lymphocytes (< 2.3%) had better survival (22.4 months vs 6.9 months, p = 0.001). Patients (39%) with clinical benefit from nivolumab therapy presented a significantly lower frequency of circulating CD8+PD-1+CD73+ lymphocytes than patients who progressed to nivolumab treatment (p = 0.02). CONCLUSIONS: Our observations suggest that baseline CD73 expression on circulating CD8+PD-1+ lymphocytes appear a promising biomarker of response to anti-PD-1 treatment in melanoma patients. Further investigations are needed for validation and for clarifying its role as prognostic or predictive marker.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 11 2020


  • CD73
  • Circulating CD8+ lymphocytes
  • Immunotherapy
  • Metastatic melanoma
  • Nivolumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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