Kidney Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

AACR 2019: Can B Cells Predict Response to Immunotherapy in Renal Cell Carcinoma?

By: Lauren Harrison, MS
Posted: Monday, April 8, 2019

B cells, specifically those with activated effector phenotypes, and tertiary lymphoid structures may predict response to immune checkpoint blockade treatment in renal cell carcinoma. This new study finding was presented at the 2019 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in Atlanta, by Jennifer Wargo, MD, of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

“This is an exciting and emerging area of study that appears to hold promise for more accurately understanding which patients are most likely to be treated effectively with [immune checkpoint blockade] therapy, and it also could help us identify new therapeutic targets,” said Dr. Wargo in an institutional press release.

Researchers used samples from patients with both renal cell carcinoma and melanoma who had received immune checkpoint inhibition as their initial therapy. Patient samples were labeled at responders or nonresponders. Whole transcriptomic analysis of the kidney cancers confirmed data from a cohort of melanoma samples, which showed that the most differentially expressed genes by response were related to B cells and antibody production. Additionally, samples that responded well to immune checkpoint blockade had higher B-cell counts than did samples not responding well to this treatment. These B cells were present in organized tertiary lymphoid structures close to both T cells and dendritic cells. The area occupied by these tertiary lymph structures and B-lineage scores were greater in responders at baseline compared with nonresponders.

“We don’t have a complete understanding of how these B cells contribute to therapeutic response, but we and others are working on this, and we hope this research will stimulate additional study in this area,” said Dr. Wargo.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at

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